More Options for Consumers

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More Options for Consumers

The nicest thing about the addition of Sprint to the lineup of companies carrying the iPhone is that consumers will now have more options. Rather than being forced to choose from only two carriers, consumers will have three companies to choose from. Choice is extremely important in the mobile market and something that has been missing in the U.S. Luckily, that's changing.

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Will It Turn Its Back on Android?

Over the last few years, Sprint has stayed true to Android. The move made some sense, since Apple was offering its iPhone elsewhere and didn't have any plans to release the device on the Sprint's network. But now that Sprint has the iPhone, will it focus more on that device than Android? It's not unprecedented: After it got the iPhone, Verizon focused much of its marketing and advertising efforts on that device, and all other handsets were left out in the cold. Sprint just might follow suit.

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Vendors Will Need to Make Hard Choices

Over the past couple years, several Android-based vendors decided to bring some of their finer products to carrier networks that didn't carry the iPhone to give themselves the best chance of winning out. In some cases, that meant choosing Sprint. But now that the iPhone is available on Sprint's network, will vendors decide to compete with Apple's smartphone or go elsewhere with their devices?

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Maybe T-Mobile Benefits

What does Sprint's access to the iPhone mean for mobile competitor T-Mobile? It's entirely possible that Sprint's decision to carry the iPhone could help T-Mobile. That company will be the only major carrier left that doesn't have the iPhone. Thus, it could attract Android vendors that don't want to have their products compete with Apple's smartphone. Plus, there are still some Android fans out there who can't stand Apple and don't want anything to do with companies that work with the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm. Those folks could go to T-Mobile.

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Google Might Respond

In the mobile space, there's no debating that Apple and Google are gunning for each other. And each company is trying to get a leg up on the other. Now that the iPhone is on Sprint's network, Google might respond. But how it responds might surprise some people: Rather than take aim at Apple, the search giant might reduce its reliance on Sprint. See, Sprint is a key partner with Google's mobile-payment solution, Wallet. In the future, Google could engage in stronger relationships with other carriers in response to this move. What's more, there's no telling what Google might do with Motorola Mobility once that deal is approved. Make no mistake, Google doesn't like Apple and Sprint's partnership.

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Could Sprint Gain Many New Subscribers?

There has been speculation about how many subscribers Sprint will be able to gain from the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Some say that number will be small, since most Apple fans are already on Verizon's or AT&T's network. Others say that it could be substantial, due to Sprint's attractive unlimited data plans. Time will tell which side is correct, but it appears a shake-up in subscribers is afoot.

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How Will Verizon Respond?

One of the interesting things about Apple's decision to bring the iPhone to Sprint's network is that the company now has two CDMA networks running its device. For AT&T, that's not a problem. But for Verizon, it might be, since it operates a CDMA network. In addition, Sprint and Verizon have strong enterprise followings. It should be interesting to see how Verizon responds to Sprint's new device.

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Expect AT&T to Keep Chugging Along

Although Verizon will be affected by the Sprint deal, the impact on AT&T will be quite small. AT&T is operating a GSM network rather than the CDMA network Sprint has, which means that it shouldn't be all that concerned about Sprint's potential growth with the iPhone. Plus, AT&T is the only carrier that can deliver the 14.4M-bps downlink speeds Apple has been touting. Finally, AT&T has the advantage of being the first (and biggest) iPhone provider in the U.S. All that combines to make Sprint's threat to AT&T quite minimal.

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Higher Revenue for Apple

All this talk of carriers and the market seems to forget one key fact: Apple should generate much higher revenue now that the iPhone will be available to Sprint customers. Previously, Apple was offering its smartphone to nearly 200 million people in the U.S. Now, its iPhone is available to tens of millions more customers. If even a fraction of those folks buy iPhones for Sprint's network, the company will see stronger financials this year.

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Slower Growth for Android, Other Competitors?

Although Apple's iOS is wildly popular around the world, the operating system is still far behind Android in market share. However, some Apple supporters have said that the company is trailing in part because of availability to customers. The more consumers who can buy the iPhone, the better it will be for Apple. Now, those claims will be put to the test. We'll see once and for all if a Sprint iPhone will help Apple's market share figures and hurt those of Android and other mobile platforms.

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