Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

The launch of "America's first 3G/4G phone" didn't exactly bring iPhone-style crowds flocking to Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s stores in Manhattan on Friday morning.

The carrier is now selling the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) EVO, the first smartphone in the US to support WiMax (which Sprint calls "4G") and 3G for $199 with a two-year contract. Despite much media interest, however, the Android phone didn't draw the kind of larae crowds that Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) had with the iPhone and iPad launches. The HTC phone attracted tens rather than hundreds of people to line up for early sales. (See Sprint's $199 WiMax EVO Phone Out June 4 and CTIA 2010: Sprint Goes Supersonic.)

Sprint's manager of corporate communications, Rich Pesce -- who was at the operator's glass-fronted 23rd Street store in Manhattan -- said that there had been a small crowd before the place opened and a "steady stream" of people in to check out the new devices. The operator had a few of the EVOs up and running that potential customers could check out.

Click below for pictures:

Empire State of Mind

The phone may have generated more interest in other markets outside of Manhattan, however. A reader from Fort Myers, Fla., emailed to say that there were about 40 people in line for the EVO before the store opened.

LR Mobile, meanwhile, went back to the 23rd Street store just after 6:30 p.m. to find that Sprint's activation systems had been down since around 4:00 p.m., so the operator couldn't sell any phones that afternoon. "They were selling well this morning," a rep said.

An Engadget report suggests that the activation problems were not an isolated incident.

NYC users won't be able to access the full 3G and WiMax experience of the phone yet. Sprint's "4G" partner Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) hasn't switched on its mobile WiMax network in NYC, meaning that the phone always defaults to 3G in the city. Sprint's Pesce says the network is due to go live in the Big Apple this year.

— Words and photos by Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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Honestly 12/5/2012 | 4:33:21 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

As much as I loathe At&t, their awful service and now outrageous screw the user pricing models, they do a good job supporting the amazing AAPL iPhone/iPad marketing machine.  In addition, EVO is a huge clunk of an industrial platform, not the cool, slick iPhone, or Pre even.  AAPL rules the smart phone sex appeal business and while Android has momentum, few can market as cool as AAPL can.

I would be suprised If HP can capture major imagination either, If, that is they can get Palm to launch a new Pre, or integrate Palm in under a year.  HP takes forever to do just about anything.  

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:33:19 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

At least in NYC they had the computer systems go down around 4pm so couldn't sell any more phones. I've changed the story to reflect this and added some more info from a reader.

opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 4:33:19 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

It doesn't seem surprising that a G4 phone isn't selling in a town where G4 isn't turned on yet.

How are sales doing in areas where WiMax is available?

...Questioned answered in article update.

starlighter 12/5/2012 | 4:33:19 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

Sprint had a real market promise when they first started out. They also caused serious churn back in 1998 to at&t. (Before they got bought out by SBC) But ever since they bought nextel, it's been all down hill. They also messed up nextel and they lost their identity. We shall see who wins.

DiVADoN 12/5/2012 | 4:33:17 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

You are absolutely right! They aren't! But I don't underatand how the hell in NYC, Sprint and Clearwire still had not activated the 4G platform? How do you activate 4G in any area before they let NYC go live?

No wonder the EVO is a flop on day 1. I will be getting it, but Sprint , as usual blew it!


I don't think they have any smart people working there!

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:33:16 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

Spoke to the Clearwire CTO about this at the beginning of this year. Apparently midtown Manhattan is really hard to deploy decent service in both from an RF perspective and in getting all the rights to deploy radios etc.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:33:08 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

Amazing bad luck (or ill-preparation) by Sprint & Qik that their new EVO video chat service dies just as they could really thumb their nose at Apple &  AT&T and say they are the only carrier with a next gen platform really capable of wide-area wireless video chat. They screwed it up. Well done!

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:30:49 PM
re: Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds

Qik has updated video app and Sprint says that video chat is operational for the EVO.

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