updated 01:00 pm EDT, Wed September 21, 2011
Sprint CEO drops strong clues to iPhone 5
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse during a speech at Goldman Sachs' Communacopia conference dropped strong hints that Sprint will have the iPhone 5. While at first insisting that he wouldn't talk about whether Sprint would have the iPhone, he framed it as the key to Sprint's future business. The "number one reason customers churn" was because of the iPhone, he said, and it was only in spite of facing two iPhone-carrying rivals that Sprint had added customers over the past two quarters.
When asked about whether or not the company's fiscal guidance for the rest of the year factored in a 'certain device,' Hesse also conspicuously dodged around mentioning the iPhone by name while making it clear that Apple was a part of Sprint's future plans. Current guidance didn't include "that device you're alluding to," he said, but it could change when the deal was made public.
"We may have to adjust guidance accordingly... for that," the CEO said.
Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 5 on October 4, something Sprint is known to have anticipated. The carrier has barred vacations for half of October in expectation that it would need all hands on deck for a device launch, something it has never needed for any Android or BlackBerry model.
Separately, commenting on the Department of Justice's lawsuit to block the AT&T and T-Mobile deal, Hesse disputed the view that the DOJ had determined there always had to be at least four major US carriers. The government's issue was that AT&T was trying to pretend T-Mobile wasn't a real competitor. Officials wanted to see a real benefit from the merger, he said, and weren't seeing it despite AT&T's protests.
The Sprint executive also showed a rare instance of candidness in the wireless industry and downplayed notions that Sprint was necessarily taking the high ground. Fighting for genuine competition and against duopolies was simply needed to stay alive.
"We're not any more ethical or moral than any other company," he explained. "Our interest just happens to align with the public interest."