With many analysts predicting that Sprint will be the next wireless carrier to sell Apple's iPhone 5, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said Wednesday in a conference that full-year targets in 2011 did not include any potential iPhone sales.
Once again, Hesse declined to say on Wednesday whether the company was planning on selling the iPhone 5, which is rumored to be out in early to mid-October, probably even Oct. 4. Rather, he just said that, in order to meet the full-year target, Sprint would need to have a very strong fourth quarter.
If the company were to sell the iPhone 5, the full-year targets would need to be changed, Hesse said.
The third largest wireless carrier in the United States, Sprint has struggled to retain customers, while AT&T and Verizon have dominated the market. AT&T first offered iPhone service, while Verizon began selling the iPhone earlier this year. Furthermore, Sprint has also been hit by cost-conscious customers moving towards low-cost carriers that provide pre-paid service. Some analysts predict that Sprint selling the iPhone 5 could begin a comeback for the company.
Still, Hesse told those on the call that the company would add subscribers for the full year in 2011 and that its profit would remain about the same as 2010.
Sprint has been a vocal critic of the pending merger between AT&T and T-Mobile USA, the fourth largest carrier in the United States. The company has complained that a duopoly in the wireless market would lead to stifled competition. Sources have told Reuters that Sprint was in discussions to purchase T-Mobile USA before Deutsch Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile USA, finalized the deal with AT&T. Executives at AT&T have been critical of this move, calling it a double standard
Now Mr. Hesse's public musings have made their motives much more clear, Jim Cicconi, AT&T vice president for legislative affairs, told Reuters. That they would act in their own economic interest is not suprising. That they would expect the United States Government to be a willing partner certainly is.
The Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit attempting to block the merger, claiming that with the reduced competition, customers most likely would see higher prices for weaker service. A federal court has set a trial date for Feb.13.
Sprint Nextels stock fell 2.4 percent Wednesday to close at $3.25.
CORRECTION: Verizon began selling the iPhone in 2011. A previous version of this article said that Verizon, along with AT&T, has sold the iPhone for several years.