It’s not exactly a surprise that Sprint – a member of the Open Handset Alliance – is launching an Android Phone. But after Sprint CEO Dan Hesse reportedly dissed Android saying in its curent form – isn’t “good enough enough to put the Sprint brand on it,” there were lots of folks questioning Sprint’s timeline. Today’s news should come as a sigh of relief for Sprint customers and, to be honest, Sprint management.
Along with the rest of the economy, Sprint is struggling. Chief Service Officer Bob Johnson said that Sprint may close as many as 20 call centers in 2009, Sprint’s WiMax seems to be weakening vs. LTE, Nextel has been a disaster and the company is facing increased competition across the board. Android’s promise is to allow carriers and manufacturers to affordably differentiate with compelling, robust handsets that are automatically loaded with applications and software at no cost to the mobile partners.
Android can help turn Sprint around… hopefully that help comes in time. And if quotes from Sprint’s Vice President of Products and Devices is an eerie foreshadow, it will be a fraction of a second too late:
“We’ve just got to make sure our customers are saying, ‘If you had a phone like this, man, I would really be more interested in Sprint because of it,’ ” Packingham said. “You want to go out with a bang, because you believe that your investment is one that’s going to generate a lot of return with customers — new customers. That’s what our shareholders are looking for.”
Go out with a bang? Ouch… that is a poorly place cliche. But adoption of Android has been slow to start and a 2009 Sprint Android Phone would still likely put them ahead of the curve.
Amy Thomson of Bloomberg News reproted that the company is rady to offer an Android Phone within a year, but none of the quotes indicate this level of specificity:
“We believe in the vision for Android, so we want to see it get bigger and get healthy,” said Kevin Packingham, Sprint’s vice president of products and devices. “We can, when the timing’s right, pull the trigger.”
So yeah, we’re not sure where this 1-year thing is coming from but the bottom line is that Sprint seems poised to take action. So where will they get their phone from? Hopefully they’re not waiting for Motorola and instead they’re getting ready to pull the trigger on the HTC portfolio or Sony Ericsson offering in the Summer of 2009.