updated 07:20 pm EDT, Thu March 17, 2011
Atrix tipped for Sprint as Motorola dodges iPhone
Motorola's Atrix and Xoom might reach Sprint as their second US carrier and may not have long to wait, a rumor maintained Thursday. Sprint would reportedly get WiMAX versions of both Android devices in an April introduction, including the Lapdock add-on. The Android and Me source has been accurate in the past and suggested the names might change, both to differentiate the Atrix and for the Xoom to avoid more trademark issues.
The move would be very unusual for both Motorola and Sprint. Motorola has had very little Android representation on Sprint and is best known for the push-to-talk i1 for Sprint's soon to be defunct IDEN network. Sprint has also recently timed many of its phone introductions for the CTIA show each year, which in 2011 takes place next week. The company will have an extra-long, 2.5-hour presentation at CTIA and could have at least three major introductions, including the Evo 3D, Evo View, and Nexus S 4G.
The sources instead believed it was partly due to Apple's effect on Motorola sales. Now that Motorola no longer had a safe haven from the iPhone on Verizon and was facing slowdowns, it had to start paying sincere attention to other carriers and get high-end devices on their networks. Most now believe the Atrix's arrival on AT&T first was a sign of just how far both AT&T and Motorola knew iPhone exclusivity would end and that both needed each other. Sprint would be the next step and would be supported by 2010 rumors of the Atrix (then codenamed the Olympus/Terminator) reaching multiple carriers.
Sprint has its own incentives. Without a public iPhone deal, it needs as many high-end phones as possible. It may also be keen to prevent phones like the Evo 3D and Atrix from competing with each other for attention.
Android market share just passed rivals in the US this January, but it's uncertain whether this will hold now that a much larger audience can get the iPhone.