updated 12:00 pm EDT, Tue March 24, 2009
Sprint 3G for Garmin More
Sprint is hoping to embed its cellular networking in devices from at least Garmin, Kodak and SanDisk, a leak (registration required) on Tuesday suggests. The Wall Street Journal claims to known an individual aware of talks that would see Sprint provide Internet access on these partners' devices as it does with Amazon's Kindle 2. Such deals would have similar arrangements and have companies pay in bulk for the data used on the network rather than demand regular subscription fees from the device owners.
What products would use the long-range wireless isn't specified, though Garmin is most likely to use cellular service for live traffic and weather data. Kodak could potentially use the technology for directly uploading photos from its cameras, and SanDisk could use it for Internet-connected media players or else memory cards with automatic Internet access. Service is most likely over 3G due to coverage but could be replaced by Sprint's 4G WiMAX network once coverage improves.
The push, which doesn't currently have a timetable, would be used to stem ongoing losses by getting its networking into as many devices as possible and effectively controlling consumer electronics outside of phones by making its service the practical standard. Other carriers have only taken modest steps into the field, such as AT&T's bundle deals for 3G service in netbooks.
While provider deals for computers are common, some electronics makers such as Apple have openly resisted tying their non-phone devices to specific networks. The latter has argued that it doesn't want to restrict the full features of its Macs to any one provider and also uses 3G as a key differential between the iPhone and iPod touch.
None of the involved companies have commented on the story's accuracy.