Will the iPhone 5 Be Exclusive to Sprint?

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Tomorrow at 1 Eastern/10 Pacific, The Motley Fool's top analysts will be hosting a live blog breaking down what Apple's iPhone 5 press conference means for investors. The best part? They’ll also be taking any questions you have about the phone and Apple as an investment as well. Make sure to set a reminder to come back to this Tuesday for all your iPhone 5 news and analysis!

The last-minute rumblings and rumors are coming in ahead of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPhone 5 announcement tomorrow, and this is a juicy one.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) is making a huge bet on the iPhone 5. According to the report, Sprint would be committing to purchasing 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years -- a $20 billion commitment -- regardless of whether it could find enough users for the devices. Such a commitment would probably be unprofitable until 2014, according to the report. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has previously said that missing out on the iPhone is "the No. 1 reason customers leave or switch."

Additionally -- and more interestingly -- BGR independently reported that that an "incredibly solid industry contact" has disclosed that Sprint will be the exclusive carrier of the iPhone 5. Keyword: exclusive. Exclusivity did wonders for AT&T (NYSE: T  ) during the iPhone's formative years, and if the BGR report turns out to be true, it could truly turn the tables in favor of Sprint for the foreseeable future.

It's widely believed that Apple will be introducing at least two separate models tomorrow: a redesigned iPhone 5 and an upgraded version of the iPhone 4, dubbed the iPhone 4S. TheBGR report alleges that the redesigned iPhone 5 will be available only on Sprint and will feature 4G WiMAX, while AT&T and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) will be relegated to carrying only the iPhone 4S. The article goes on to mention that near-field communications, or NFC, will be also included.

As riveting as this would be, I don't believe it. At this point, Apple has plenty of leverage with carriers, and an exclusive deal with a carrier smaller than its current two domestic partners makes little to no sense.

It's believable that Sprint is committing a ton of money into getting the iPhone, but exclusivity isn't the name of the game for Apple anymore. More carriers mean more household penetration and iPhone sales, and vice versa. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android pulled ahead in market-share in part because of wide availability among all wireless carriers.

WiMAX has lost the 4G battle to LTE, and NFC is too immature to be a meaningful addition. I've already made my official predictions of what will be in the iPhone 5, with 4G and NFC waiting until next year.

Now is the time to wrap up your iPhone 5 predictions, for all will be known tomorrow. Just don't forget to check back for all our Foolish coverage. You can start by adding Apple to your Watchlist.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of AT&T and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Check out his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, and AT&T and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2011, at 6:15 PM, CasheyCow wrote:

    What a stupid question to answer

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2011, at 6:25 PM, jhf678 wrote:

    I agree that it will be exclusive to Sprint only and Sprint only. Sprint will be number 1 carrier soon.

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2011, at 6:27 PM, EquityBull wrote:

    Sorry. Sprint will not be exclusive carrier, period

  • Report this Comment On October 03, 2011, at 7:45 PM, 415el wrote:

    That can not happen. iPhone 4 did more than 30MM units in the first half of this year. Why would Apple give an exclusive $20B in revenue in 4 years, that's $5B in 4 years of earnings. $1.25B for 1 year? That's not enough for an exclusive deal with Apple. Maybe for an exclusive deal on the 4S for Sprint's Virgin Mobile repaid plan.

  • Report this Comment On October 04, 2011, at 3:31 AM, garifolle wrote:

    hAiZeNeTh Please stop spamming.

    It seems that Fool does not care for it's own rules.Anyway, no one here understand what "to google" means ;-)

    Back to the IPhone question , I do not understand why Apple would give an exclusivity.

    There are so many rumors running around: Exclusivity for Sprint for 2011.

    The other ones having to wait till 2012, missing the Holiday season!

    But Verizon employees planning to boycott the arrival of the new IPhone on Oct 4, means that they expect that it will be sold at Verizon on that day, no?

    But why all those secrets?

    Anyway, this rumor doe not seem to have pleased the investors so much, because Monday, as Verizon lost 1.3% with the general markets sell off, Sprint has lost more then 10%.

    OK there were analysts cuts on Sprint, but this again mean?

    If the rumors is true, I am not sure if Sprint's gambling (if the rumor is verified) was such a good idea!

  • Report this Comment On October 04, 2011, at 3:34 AM, garifolle wrote:

    Sorry for that unfinished sentence:

    "OK there were analysts cuts on Sprint, but this again mean? "

    Here is the end:

    This would mean that Apple would give an exclusivity to a carrier that is # 3 and downgraded?

  • Report this Comment On October 04, 2011, at 10:15 AM, WhiteHatBobby wrote:

    Keep an eye at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase Race #5, the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Sprint could use the BAC 500 to announce the iPhone 5 deal, and if it's exclusive, expect giant-size iPhone 5's to be made for the pre-race intro stage. They've used the Charlotte races to introduce phones and to have a giant iPhone on top of the race winner's car would be huge PR.

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