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Sprint CEO Dan Hesse   (Source: Mark Costantini/The Chronicle)
Sprint is reportedly committing to purchase 30.5m million iPhones over the next four years

All signs are pointing towards Sprint getting Apple's next generation iPhone, and the official announcement will come tomorrow during Tim Cook's keynote address. However, the price that Sprint will have to pay to join the iPhone brotherhood in the U.S. -- along with fellow wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon -- will be tremendous.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint has agreed to buy 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years from Apple. The price tag for Sprint is a whopping $20 billion USD. Sprint will be subsidizing the cost of each on-contract phone to the tune of $500.
Another risk for the copmany is the fact that Sprint won't even make any money on the deal until at least 2014.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse approached Sprint's Board of Directors with the deal, and they were understandably hesitant about betting the company on Apple's smartphone prowess. But in the end, the Board felt that it was fighting a losing battle against larger rivals Verizon and AT&T which both have the iPhone. In addition, if AT&T's planned acquisition of T-Mobile were to be approved, its fortunes in the marketplace would be even more dire.
The board eventually decided, "How can we pass this up? We have to have it."

With Sprint's commitment to making unlimited data a priority for its customers (at a time when Verizon and AT&T are putting bandwidth caps on users), such a deal could help bolster Sprint's survival chances in this cutthroat industry.
While Hesse and the Board are definitely onboard with the iPhone deal, investors are less thrilled. Sprint shares closed at $2.73, representing a 10.2 percent drop from the opening bell.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Google Finance

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Another possibility....
By Brandon Hill on 10/3/2011 5:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
I thought this was a bit "out there" to include in the story, but BGR claims that Sprint will get the "true" iPhone 5 (WiMAX) as an exclusive, while AT&T and Verizon will be stuck with the new iPhone 4S until Q1 2012 when they get their own LTE versions of the iPhone 5.

RE: Another possibility....
By cjohnson2136 on 10/3/2011 5:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
Very interesting though. I think that would make people more likely you jump ship to get the iPhone 5 now compared to the iPhone 4S.

RE: Another possibility....
By TheRequiem on 10/3/2011 5:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
It's possible the "Wimax" part could be a part of the exclusivity, but that would be it IMO. I don't think other carriers will be excluded from the iPhone 5, AT&T already has iPhone 5 case sin it's stores, allegedly.

RE: Another possibility....
By cjohnson2136 on 10/3/2011 5:25:23 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm well that would change things. I guess its just a matter of waiting and seeing. Not like it matters for me though I am still stuck with a feature phone :(

RE: Another possibility....
By mcnabney on 10/4/2011 11:51:58 AM , Rating: 2
There won't NOW, nor will there EVER be a WiMax iPhone. Apple is happy having a one chip solution now that provides GSM & CDMA. They DON'T want to add another radio to the damn phone, especially a WiMax radio which has already been announced as obsolete when Sprint joined the LTE 'club'. THERE WILL BE NO 4G ANYTHING IN THE NEW iPHONE!

RE: Another possibility....
By HrilL on 10/4/2011 12:47:51 PM , Rating: 2
It wouldn't be hard to use a different Wifi chip that also supports WiMax. They've had they chips for a long time and they're pretty much the same size and use the same amount of power. So the Sprint Phone could have a GSM/CDMA chip and a wifi/WiMax chip. This also might be why Sprint had to commit to a large phone order because they wanted their own WiMax version. Also some countries also have WiMax networks and this model could be sold over seas as well. Like South Korea for example.

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