Sprint is apparently ordering its employees to deflect questions about Apple's next iPhone appearing on the carrier, according to a leaked internal memo.
A recent Wall Street Journal article suggested that Sprint will join Verizon and AT&T in carrying the iPhone, which has been popularly dubbed "iPhone 5." Apple itself has yet to unveil the device, although analysts and bloggers currently expect that to happen in either September or October.
The WSJ paraphrased anonymous "people familiar with the matter" for its information. Sprint currently offers a line of high-profile Android smartphones designed to take advantage of its 4G network.
Now a new internal memo, which was posted on the blog Sprintfeed, apparently warns Sprint employees to keep their lips sealed on the topic of Apple's smartphone appearing on the carrier: "If you're asked by a customer or just talking to friends or family members, you need to avoid making any comment about the iPhone and [simply] state -no comment.'"
As the blog points out: "If the recent claims [about the iPhone coming to Sprint] weren't true, why not tell your employees that the claims are false or to advise customers that these are only rumors?"
Sprint did not return eWEEK's repeated requests for comment by press time.
But certainly the carrier could benefit from carrying the iPhone, according to analysts.
"While not in our model, adding Sprint could add 6 [million] units to our [calendar year 2012] iPhone estimate, taking growth from 30 percent to 37 percent," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in an Aug. 23 research note.
That 6-million-unit figure comes by "using Verizon as a proxy to adoption at Sprint," he explained. "We expect 11 percent of phones sold at Verizon will be iPhones. ... If 11 percent of Sprint's phones sold in [calendar year 2012] were iPhones, that would add 6 [million] iPhones to our estimate."
Other analysts have offered a more tempered view on the possible benefits to Sprint, with Nomura Securities analyst Mike McCormack telling Bloomberg BusinessWeek that the iPhone would help Sprint only if new customers came at the expense of AT&T and Verizon.
Rumored features of the next iPhone include Apple's proprietary A5 processor, an 8-megapixel camera and other hardware. It will almost certainly run iOS 5, a major update to the company's mobile operating system.