Sprint is confident that its exclusive HTC EVO 4G smartphone can put a hurting on sales of the Apple iPhone 4 when the iPhone hits stores on June 25.
Speaking at an investor conference Wednesday in New York, Sprint CFO Robert Brust said the HTC EVO 4G will create Sprint customer stickiness, stemming the tide of customers that usually abandon the carrier for AT&T and the iPhone when a new iPhone hits the market.
"Every year all U.S. carriers, except AT&T, go through a little trauma called 'iPhone introduction,'" Brust said, according to a CNET report. "We have a little churn issue called 'People leaving to go to the iPhone.' As people's contracts expire they leave and go to AT&T for the iPhone."
But Brust told the crowd that Sprint has a secret weapon this year that will keep the Sprint seats full: The HTC EVO 4G. The EVO 4G is the first commercially available 4G smartphone, which runs on Sprint's 4G WiMax network where available. The HTC EVO 4G officially went on sale Friday and quickly sold out, setting a single day smartphone sales record for Sprint. Later, Sprint said it over-estimated HTC EVO 4G sales, but that the device still broke the first day sales records of both the Samsung Instinct and the Palm Pre.
Brust's comments come on the heels of Steve Jobs unveiling the Apple iPhone 4, the latest iteration of the now-iconic smartphone, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco earlier this week. By many accounts, the HTC EVO 4G and the Apple iPhone 4 will go head to head and battle for summer smartphone dominance.
Brust told the crowd that he's hopeful that AT&T and the Apple iPhone 4 won't woo away Sprint customers and that the Google Android HTC EVO 4G will make customers stay put. He also said that AT&T's network problems and AT&T's new tiered wireless data plans, which eliminate its unlimited plans, will slow the mass exodus in the iPhone's favor.
"AT&T has been getting a lot of flack for its network," he said, according to CNET's report. "People all over the country have been complaining about the service. And they've raised rates for some of their customers. I think they are under a lot of stress right now."
The 4G EVO is a game-changer device. Leveraging Sprint's 4G Clearwire WiMax network, the smartphone boasts a high-resolution to a 4.3-inch touch-screen, a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, an 8 megapixel HD video and still camera and a second 1.3 megapixel camera. Along with being the first to leverage Sprints 4G WiMax network, the smartphone also can leverage 3G and Wi-Fi and features a built in mobile hotspot for up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices.
Sprint said its 4G network can currently hit 44 million people, but by the end of the year roughly 120 million potential customers will be able to use the high speed network.
Brust's and Sprint's bold statements, however, come as Sprint was already defeated once by a new iPhone model. Last year the Sprint-based Palm Pre and the Apple iPhone 3G S squared off, with the iPhone coming out the victor. Burst, however, said the HTC EVO 4G is different and has a stronger chance against the new iPhone 4 than the Palm Pre had against the iPhone 3G S.
"The Pre was for people who didn't really want the iPhone," CNET reported Brust as saying. "But the EVO is a phone that people can get instead of the iPhone. We were in the distance last year and now we're catching up."