Sprint "pulls an iPhone" when it comes to Windows Phone

Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) lately seems to have a knack for latching onto other carriers' good ideas well after the party has started.  Sprint bent over backwards financially to become America's third and final major iPhone carrier, is now looking to be a late guest at another hot party -- Windows Phone 8.

The good news for fans of the nation's third largest carrier, and sole remaining proprietor of "unlimited" mobile data, is that you will eventually get your hands on Windows Phone 8.  The bad news is that you won't get the opportunity to get your hands on WP8 hardware this year.

Sprint is the only major U.S. carrier not to offer WP8 hardware for the holidays.

In an emailed statement to PC Magazine a Sprint spokesperson promised, "Sprint and Microsoft are partnering to bring Windows Phone 8 to Sprint's customers - operating on its 4G LTE network - next year."

The carrier previously did test the waters with a single Windows Phone 7 device -- HTC Corp.'s (TPE:2498) Arrive.  While lacking hardware-wise, the Arrive nonetheless held the highest owner satisfaction score on Sprint for some time.  But the enthusiasm was not enough to stop Sprint from killing sales of the badly aging handset earlier this year, nor was it enough to guarantee an immediate replacement.

Sprint will be the last major carrier to board the Windows Phone 8 train, arriving in 2013.

But Windows Phone does have a key ally at Sprint in a pivotal position.  David Owens, director of device acquisition at the carrier, in May said he felt "bullish" about the LTE-endowed Windows Phone 8 platform.

For the holidays Sprint customers will have to choose between a smaller selection than on rival carriers.  However, the carrier is offering some premium handsets on other platforms, including Apple, Inc.'s (AAPLiPhone 5, Samsung Electronics Comp. Ltd.'s (KSC:005930phone-cum-tablet Galaxy Note II, and LG Electronics, Inc.'s (KSC:066570Optimus G.

One good thing for those waiting for Windows Phone 8 is that you'll at least likely be treated to broader LTE coverage, versus Sprint's current relatively lackluster deployment, which only covers select areas of the Midwest, including Chicago and St. Louis, along with a handful of other locations nationwide.

Softbank Corp. (TYO:9984) a rising power in the Japanese market is set to take majority of ownership of Sprint in early 2013 after a purchase plan announced in mid-October.  The deal is worth $20.1B USD.

Source: PC Magazine

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