Sprint reportedly took a big gamble on the iPhone, with a report two weeks ago claiming that the nations’ third largest carrier committed to purchasing 30.5 million iPhones regardless of whether or not its consumer base proved to be iPhone hungry.
When Dan Hesse presented the plan to Sprint’s board of directors, many of them were naturally skeptical. With carriers paying huge subsidies for the iPhone upfront, some at Sprint felt the eventual payoff would be too far off to make the dael worthwhile. Meanwhile, others questioned if the iPhone would even be the premium smartphone on the market by throughout the course of the multi-year iPhone deal.
The board ultimately signed off on what the company internally called the “Sony” project, concluding Sprint couldn’t compete otherwise. Directors figured, “How can we pass this up? We have to have it,” the person familiar with the matter said.
In many respects, it was and is do or die time for Sprint. CEO Dan Hesse makes no bones about the fact that most of Sprint’s defections over the past few years have been due to the iPhone, or rather lack thereof. And with Sprint already trailing significantly behind AT&T which has had the iPhone since 2007, Sprint needed to go all-in with the iPhone if it has any hope to stop the bleeding.
And so far, Sprint’s bet the farm on the iPhone strategy seems to have been a shrewd one.
Just 12 hours after the iPhone launched, Sprint announced that it had already set a one-day sales record for a specific device.
Fared Adib, Sprint Product Chief, issued the following statement: “Sprint today reported its best ever day of sales in retail, web and telesales for a device family in Sprint history with the launch of iPhone 4S and iPhone 4. We reached this milestone at approximately noon CT/1pm ET. The response to this device by current and new customers has surpassed our expectations and validates our customers’ desire for a truly unlimited data pricing plan.”
Though the iPhone has been available for years on AT&T, and recently on Verizon, not every one has been in a position to switch carriers solely for the iPhone. Some Sprint users were inevitably tied into family plans while others, we assume, found themselves in areas with poor AT&T/Verizon coverage. As such, the pool of Sprint users who have been eagerly awaiting an iPhone is likely larger than we realize.
Lastly, with Sprint now the only US carrier to offer unlimited data plans for iPhone users, it’ll be interesting to see if it can steal away any long-time iPhone subscribers from AT&T and Verizon.