A report in The Wall Street Journal today has now sparked speculation that Sprint could be the exclusive carrier for the iPhone 5.
The rumor mill started when the WSJ first published its report that Sprint plans to purchase a whopping 30.5 million iPhones from Apple at a cost of around $20 billion over a four-year period. The Journal characterized the move as a "bet-the-company" strategy that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse reportedly acknowledged would lose money for the company through at least 2014. The Journal reported that Sprint's board of directors still approved the deal despite its staggering costs because it determined it had no other way to compete with rivals Apple and AT&T.
Shortly after this report hit the Web, Boy Genius Report founder Jonathan Geller revealed that he'd heard from sources that Sprint would be the exclusive carrier of a WiMax-enabled iPhone 5 until at least the first quarter of 2012, when AT&T and Verizon would get LTE-compatible iPhone 5 models. Geller admitted that he was initially skeptical of his sources' claims and said that when he first heard of the rumor of the exclusivity deal he found it "so unbelievable" that he "couldn't report it." The WSJ's report, however, made it not "look so crazy" anymore.
Gizmodo's Matt Buchanan was quick to quash BGR's exclusivity deal rumor, however, and described it as a "fanboy fantasy" and questioned how "something so ridiculous could be true, in any realm of possibility that you and I exist in?" He also pledged to eat his "(expletive) hand" and "a whole cow" if the rumor turned out to be true.
Geller's own readers expressed skepticism as well. BGR reader Richard Gilboy, for one, said the rumor "had to be fake" as there was "no way Apple would test WiMAX technology to sacrifice battery life." BGR reader Robes1, meanwhile, said that the exclusivity deal would "never happen" because Sprint is already making a transition to LTE and because Apple wouldn't want to anger its AT&T and Verizon iPhone customers.
Either way, it seems we'll find out exactly what Apple has in store for its next-generation iPhone during its press event tomorrow. In the meantime, if you can't get enough iPhone rumors, be sure to check out the assorted reports from Network World's John Cox, who has been dutifully tracking iPhone 5 rumors for months.
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