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Sprint tackles iPhone, offers 99-cent songs

updated 03:25 pm EDT, Mon March 26, 2007

Sprint UpStage and Store

Sprint today launched a two-pronged assault on Apple's still unreleased iPhone by releasing both a new phone and an aggressive new music strategy. Confirming earlier leaks, the UpStage is intended to be music-friendly without sacrificing calling ability, as one side features a larger screen and controls for music or videos and the other holds a 1.3-megapixel camera, the more traditional cellphone keypad, and a basic display. Up to 2GB of music can be stored on a microSD card. New in the official announcement is news of a unique battery wallet: inserting the UpStage into the case both guards it against damage and boosts talk time to 6.3 hours, Sprint says. The carrier plans to bundle the UpStage with a 64MB microSD card when it ships in early April at a price of $149 with a two-year service plan.

More aggressive still, however, is the company's online initiative. In a simultaneous announcement, the provider has revealed that the Sprint Music Store is more than halving the price of its music downloads. Subscribers to the company's data plans will have the option of buying music directly from their phones at 99 cents per song -- the lowest price ever for a wireless music store, Sprint says. The service will still let owners receive a second copy of a song for their PCs and is matched by Sprint's new Music Manager tool for quickly copying a PC's songs to the UpStage and other phones through USB.

The new prices will take effect at the same time as the UpStage reaches shops in April; buying songs at the 99-cent rate will require one of Sprint's two new data plans: the $15 per month Power Vision Access Pack will bring ten live radio streams and special pre-recorded video content, while the $20 per month Power Vision Music Pack ups the Internet radio channels to fifty and adds a streaming Internet TV channel for music. Both will come with unlimited data use and up to ten free songs per week.

While the UpStage doesn't directly challenge the iPhone and its $499 price point, the new online music store pricing may create an additional challenge for Apple, which has never faced direct competition with cellphone-based stores due to their frequently expensive pricing methods. The iTunes Store is currently the only confirmed source of online music downloads for the iPhone and currently requires purchasing songs exclusively from the computer.

Apple hasn't announced any plans to allow downloads direct to the phone or synchronizing with a local computer through Wi-Fi.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. jameshays

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003

    +1

    Does nothing for me

    That phone does nothing for me. I would hardly consider that competition for the iPhone. To me, the iPhone is much more than just a jukebox phone.

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Nov 2006

    0

    LCDx2

    Wow. LCD panels on both sides. How thick do you think the phone will be?

  1. ptkdude

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2006

    0

    ICK!

    This has to be the ugliest phone I've seen in a LONG time. It look like Atari made it in the mid '80s with those huge buttons.

  1. bobthenob

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2004

    0

    one thing

    I'll give them props for one Apple-esque thing on this phone ... the idea of putting an interface on the "back".

    Of course, it's not well executed and doesn't do anything help this compete with the iPhone, but a cool idea nonetheless.

  1. koolkid1976

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2003

    0

    What??

    Songs are not $2.50 anymore? But the ring tones which expire after 90days will still be $2.50 right?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: lcdx2

    My phone has LCDs on both sides, and it isn't noticably thick. Plus, Samsung, I believe, announced new LCDs that could display different content on each side of an LCD, thus reducing thickness.

  1. cblackmo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2006

    0

    great response but...

    Kudos to Sprint for finally trying to seriously respond to iTunes and iPhone. It's practically a miracle that they're attempting this, especially considering how notorious they are for lack of innovation.

    BUT THEY'LL NEED MORE THAN ONE MIRACLE to stop me from dropping their service at the end of my contract's term and switching to an iPhone on AT&T.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: ick!

    This has to be the ugliest phone I've seen in a LONG time. It look like Atari made it in the mid '80s with those huge buttons.

    Wait to you see the iPhone. The buttons are huge!

  1. gskibum3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2006

    0

    Dreamin'

    My dream phone:

    1. Reliably makes phone calls 2. Has a large phone book. 3. Reliable Bluetooth. 4. Works with OS X.

    It doesn't have a camera. It doesn't have a color screen that I can't see outdoors. It doesn't try to be an iPod.

    Maybe someone will enlighten me, but I don't think it exists.

  1. Chris Paveglio

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2002

    0

    2 sided =

    smudge city! or maybe scratches galore! Looks like a boon for leather case makers.

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