Sprint's EVO Launch Creates Buzz & Mixed Crowds
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.
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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