Sprint may sell the iPhone 5 in October, giving both the carrier and Apple a boost against their respective competition.
The Overland Park, Kan.-based company will offer the device on its official release day along with Verizon and AT&T, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sprint has not confirmed the report.
If Sprint really is set to begin offering the iPhone 5, it will likely be a tremendous boost for the company. The carrier currently sits in a distant third place to Verizon and AT&T in the wireless battle in the U.S., due in part to its lack of iPhone.
The iPhone 5 may mean more traffic for Sprint. Millions of customers flocked to AT&T over the nearly three years the company had iPhone exclusivity, and Verizon is still seeing the benefits since it began carrying the iPhone 4 earlier this year.
The emergence of the Android OS helped Sprint stay in the game by offering devices like the EVO 4G, but the company has no answer for the millions of subscribers who still want an iPhone on a carrier that is not AT&T or Verizon.
While Sprint would be in a better position today if it had begun selling the iPhone sooner, the carrier needs the device now more than ever.
The pending AT&T/T-Mobile merger threatens to put Sprint further behind in the wireless race in the U.S., and will make it the only competition to giants AT&T and Verizon. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has publicly opposed the merger, saying it would leave his company unable to offer the handsets and prices necessary to compete.
However, acquiring iPhone in its lineup may be a game changer for Sprint, even if the merger goes through. Selling the iPhone likely isn’t enough to surpass competition in Sprint’s total number of customers, but it may allow the company to increase its subscriber base enough to stay competitive and relevant. Assuming the AT&T/T-Mobile merger goes through, Sprint may be the perfect option for customers who want the iPhone and are turned off by the large size of AT&T and Verizon.
The iPhone 5 may not be enough for Sprint to compete head on with its larger competitors, but it may be enough to keep the carrier in the game.