As expected, Verizon used their event today to announce the availability of the iPhone on their network, ending AT&T's exclusivity of the device that has been in existence since the original model launched in 2007. The news of its arrival and the inclusion of a mobile hotspot feature got people pretty excited about the device, but there was one short sentence from Apple COO Tim Cook that sent every Sprint customer's heart racing. When asked if the CDMA iPhone was exclusive to Verizon, Cook replied that the deal was non-exclusive.
There have certainly been rumors of a Sprint-compatible iPhone in the past, but with Cook's statement and the announcement of Verizon's iPhone, I wouldn't be surprised to see them ramp up even more now. After all, there isn't anything stopping Apple from launching an iPhone on Sprint except getting the two companies to come together and ink a deal. A T-Mobile iPhone, on the other hand, would require a new radio that's compatible with Magenta's 1700MHz 3G band, which no other major carrier in the U.S. uses.
Not only would a Sprint iPhone be relatively easy to make happen, it would likely bring in a decent number of new users to iOS. Sprint, currently the No. 3 carrier in the U.S., had about 33.1 million post-paid customers when they last reported their earnings. That's nowhere near Verizon's over 90 million subscribers, but I'd be willing to bet that a healthy chunk of consumers on Sprint would jump to the iOS ship. It may not add tens of millions of new users, but considering how little work would be involved in making the CDMA iPhone play nice with Sprint, it certainly seems like it'd be a smart move.
So, will a Sprint iPhone ever happen? Probably. Just don't expect it to happen until this summer at the earliest. Apple is known for making yearly updates to its products, meaning an iPhone 5 is likely on the horizon with a June or July launch. I'm sure that, even though the Verizon iPhone 4 will have only been out for 4-5 months at that point, Big Red will get a version of the iPhone 5 to call its own then. Keeping that in mind, why not throw Sprint users a bone too? I doubt the hypothetical Sprint iPhone would offer WiMAX support, but I think we all kind of expect that out of Apple. Would any of you pick up an iPhone on Sprint rather than opting for an AT&T or Verizon-compatible model?