Sprint's iPhone-Only Plans Got Apple's Blessing

Sprint's new CEO Marcelo Claure recently told employees that his first day on the job was spent meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, the results from which have come to light now that the new iPhone has been announced.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) will carry the same iPhone 6 as its competitors, but it announced some unique pricing plans this week. It will offer a $50 unlimited talk, text and data plan specifically for the iPhone 6. And it's promising an "iPhone for Life" option for those customers that chose to rent it for $20 per month, rather than own it outright. These customers will be able to upgrade their iPhones every 24 months for a new model. (See Apple's New iPhones Have 20 LTE Bands, VoLTE.)

Under iPhone for Life, that comes to $70 per month for unlimited data on the iPhone. If Sprint customers don't choose the leasing option, they can opt to pay the full cost up-front and own their iPhone, finance the device for $30 per month, or take the standard option to pay $199 on a two-year contract.

Sprint's iPhone Pricing Plans

Want to know more about the US wireless industry? Check out Light Reading's dedicated mobile content channel.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference on Thursday morning, Claure spoke of the close relationship between Sprint and Apple and the vote of confidence that Cook has given Sprint by allowing the iPhone for Life deal. In the past, Apple has been the one to call all the shots.

"For Apple to stand behind something like that, they have to believe in it," Claure said. "We're using their name."

Claure was also jazzed about the fact that the iPhone will support Sprint's 2.5GHz LTE Spark network, which means it should be able to keep up with all the unlimited data usage with Sprint's best speeds and capacity. (See Sprint Promises 180Mbit/s 'Peaks' in 2015.)

As for the rest of his talk this morning, Claure spent the most time reemphasizing his top three priorities -- finding the right value in pricing, improving the network and reducing the cost to serve -- and the increased speed at which he plans to do all three. He also said every single dollar out of Sprint is now monitored, so more cuts are likely as all "nice-to-haves" go away. (See Sprint CEO: Price Cuts First, Best Network Next .)

Claure also promised to give onetime acquisition target T-Mobile US Inc. a run for its money, despite T-Mobile CEO John Legere's claim that it will overtake Sprint in subscriber numbers this year. "Every Monday, we look at what's working and what's not. If any carrier launches something that makes us uncompetitive, we'll react the same day," Claure said, citing Sprint's response to T-Mobile's phone buyback program as an example. (See T-Mobile Offers to Best Competitors' Device Trade-In Offers.)

And, while Claure is still clearly interested in M&A opportunities, it's no longer counting on T-Mobile or any other company to get it back on its feet. (See Sprint Drops Bid for T-Mobile – Reports .)

"This is a scale game," he said. "When your competitors are twice your size and it costs you the same to run the network, scale matters. However, you can't complain any more about that. You have to compete with what you have. We're going to make sure we're going to become disruptors in the industry."

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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pcharles09 10/30/2014 | 11:02:17 PM
Re: Sustainable? @nasimson,

You're right. I mingled improvement with innovation. Not a good thing. But I guess when there's not too much improvement, even a small boost seems to be innovative. It's all about your perspective.
nasimson 10/28/2014 | 9:59:05 PM
Re: Sustainable? >  That's not what I wanted to hear. But it's not too surprising. I guess performance
> boost every 2-3 yrs is what we should expect.


Performance boosts are not innovation. Performance boosts are frequently radical or mostly marginal improvements in very narrow areas like voice quality or broadband speeds.

So with my nearly a decade of experience in the industry, having watched OTT, device manufacturers and telecoms evolved over the years, I am expecting the changes in the listed order. Not much from telecoms. They'll be the first ones to go out of business if metro-level WiFi deployemnts and handover technology evolves.
pcharles09 10/28/2014 | 8:24:49 PM
Re: Sustainable? @nasimson,

That's not what I wanted to hear. But it's not too surprising. I guess performance boost every 2-3 yrs is what we should expect.
nasimson 10/15/2014 | 3:05:48 AM
Re: Sustainable? > They 'should' but the right way. By having people that want to pay them for
> something they offer. Not what they offerred 5yrs ago still hoping for better.

If you holistically look at it, Telcos have become a utility much like gas and electric. So innovation opportunities are limited. Apart from network speed, little has changed.
pcharles09 9/29/2014 | 11:49:53 PM
Re: Sustainable? @nasimson,

"Sprint has to make money somewhere. Shouldn't it?"

They 'should' but the right way. By having people that want to pay them for something they offer. Not what they offerred 5yrs ago still hoping for better.
nasimson 9/29/2014 | 9:57:35 PM
Re: Sustainable? > If it intends to do some business with Apple, then it must price the connections
> competitively. While people having the iPhone for Life plan seem to benfit much, there
> isn't really that much of a difference when it comes to lower call rates than lower data
> rates. The only thing that will appeal to customers is a faster connectivity.


With such plans, smarter younger people can use WiFi and apps like fb massenger, skype, facetime, whatsapp, viber to shift their call/text usage from cellular plans to OTT.

On other hand, Sprint has to make money somewhere. Shouldn't it?
MikeP688 9/16/2014 | 12:18:50 PM
Re: Sustainable? It is ever so true that they're not "alturistic" in their motives--that's why the rise of the alternatives such as freedompop (that does use the sprint network), along with Cricket (part of AT&T) and boost (again part of Sprint) that fascinates in trying to see what actually the long-term plan is.     
kq4ym 9/15/2014 | 9:39:07 AM
Re: Sustainable? Sprint's marketing is indeed interesting and it will be probably a great way to earn some more profits, giving consumers more choice in how to budget their phone costs. But, in many ways it reminds me of marketing mortgages, and automobiles. Giving the customer lots of choices in monthly payment plans, but in the end the "lender" comes out about the same in profit no matter what choice is made.
MikeP688 9/14/2014 | 8:12:14 PM
Re: Sustainable? What the new Sprint CEO has done is indeed interesting.   I saw the new plan--and it may well present a revenue stream that has been lacking.   I'd be curious to see what happens next week after the big day (September 19) arrives and we see the numbers from all.    
danielcawrey 9/14/2014 | 2:12:13 PM
Re: Sustainable? I think that this is a great idea. This is going to make people like me not currently using an iPhone and with a competing carrier a reason to think about switching to Sprint.

I don't think that Sprint's coverage is really good, but I may be able to deal with it in return for paying a lot less per month and always getting a new iPhone. 
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