updated 05:10 pm EDT, Tue September 6, 2011
Sprint hints it already has iPhone deal. kuist
Phrasing in Sprint's lawsuit against AT&T and T-Mobile has given a clue that a Sprint iPhone deal has already been settled. In warning against the dangers of giving large carriers too much power over handset deals, Sprint revealed that Verizon had only been given a "time-to-market advantage" for the iPhone. While Verizon had already said that its deal wasn't an exclusive, it reveals that Sprint is only waiting on an unspecified interval and that it was already willing to sign on.
The lawsuit wording coincides with an approach from Sprint on the subject that hints its iPhone version is close. An internal memo has urged 'no comment' replies, even to friends and family, rather than denying that a deal is in the works. Executives have used the same "you'll have to ask Apple" response to questions that Verizon did when it had long-since cemented an agreement with Apple and was just protecting sales until launch day.
The argument in question goes on to expose just how much importance Sprint places on the iPhone. In hoping to block the merger, Sprint points to having "had to compete without access to the iPhone" for nearly four years. AT&T and Verizon have taken advantage of their scale to keep smaller networks like Sprint away from the "iconic device," according to the lawsuit.
Sprint has had key exclusives without the iPhone and has credited the HTC Evo 4G to rescuing the company from years of subscriber declines. As with Verizon, though, it's commonly believed that some of those buyers are getting Sprint's Android flagships as placeholders for the iPhone while staying on the same network, not out of an active preference. [via This is my next]