July 31, 2014

Opinion: What Does Verizon's Nexus One Mean for Sprint?

Neowin, with help from their inside informant, reported that Verizon will be getting the Nexus One on March 23rd. With the CDMA version of the phone spotted passing through the FCC, this date seems very likely. However, with all this excitement comes more questions.

When the Nexus One was announced by Google, T-Mobile-ers were ecstatic. On the flip side of the GSM spectrum, there was the AT&T crowd, who sulked and wept over the lack of support for their 3G bands. Keep in mind, this doesn’t stop AT&T users from using the phone on EDGE; there just isn’t a subsidy plan available to them. They have to buy the phone unlocked for a whopping $529.

With the CDMA version of the phone arriving, a slightly different scenario is beginning to take shape. You see, Sprint and Verizon use the same bands. This is the reason why Sprint users are able to roam onto Verizon’s network if they’re ever out of their service area. This means that a Verizon suited Nexus One is 100% compatible with the Sprint network and it’s 3G goodness. Sprint users are longing for the Nexus One. Currently, Sprint only has two Android options: the sexy and slow Hero, or the fast and bulky Moment. Why can’t Sprint users have a combination of both? The Nexus One is the ideal smartphone for any Android fan. It’s blazing fast, sexy as a pin-up, and gets updates right when Google releases them. It’s a dream phone. So why isn’t there any concrete news about Sprint carrying Nexus Uno? The customer service email saying that it’s coming could have just been a standard response for phone inquiries.

GSM and CDMA activation work very differently. With GSM, you can just pop your SIM card into any GSM capable phone. With CDMA, you have to register your ESN number with your carrier. In order for the CDMA version of the Nexus One to work with Lil’ Yellow, Sprint would have to add the ESN numbers to their database–something they won’t do unless they decide to support it. Sprint doesn’t allow unlocked phones onto its network. Without a Google/Sprint agreement, Sprint users who want the Nexus One would be forced to jump ship (unless the Supersonic and its months of waiting for OS updates are enough to keep you onboard).

It’s no secret that Sprint is struggling. The number three wireless carrier has been taking subscriber hits every quarter since merging with Nextel. If there’s any carrier that needs the Nexus One, it’s Sprint. This is what makes the situation so confusing. How could a company that’s in the process of rebuilding itself pass on carrying Google’s flagship device? A Nexus One running on Sprint’s unbelievable rate plans would be the deadliest combo in the market. Google wants to have its superphones available on all carriers, so surely, they’re in talks with Sprint. True, Sprint is very busy rolling out WiMAX and fixing their customer service, but how can they be too busy for Google? Answer: They can’t.

Right now, Sprint has no great high-end phone. For many of the users who have left Sprint, this is one of their biggest complaints. For a company like Sprint to make it big, they need the help of a giant. Google is the key to Sprint’s success. Sprint ignoring the Nexus One is like a physicist ignoring the laws of gravity. Sprint knows the value of Android and realizes its potential in the future mobility. They’ve read our posts, followed our coverage, and seen their customer service rep’s email. Yet, they never came out and said, “sorry, we have no plans to carry the Nexus One.” Silence is the key here. True, when there’s a rumor going around the Interwebs, a company doesn’t have to respond (and probably won’t). However, this only holds true when the rumor is started by an outside source. When a company, itself, leaks the information, it becomes their job to clarify. When Walmart accidentally put up a page saying that they’re selling the Nexus One, they had to come out and apologize for the error. Sprint’s own customer service said the device is coming. Had that been a mistake, Sprint would have had to issue a statement.

With a Sprint-ready Nexus One hitting the market this month, there’s just no way for them to ignore it. If Sprint didn’t end up carrying the Nexus One, I’d be shocked (I’d also probably leave Sprint after 5 years of yellow love). These Are the Droids claims that Sprint already has a Nexus One placeholder in their database. Also, just a few days ago, one of our readers, DLP, posted the following comment regarding our previous coverage of the matter.

“I had a problem with my Instinct last night and I was talking to CSR about phones while we were waiting for things to finish on the Instinct and I asked him about the Nexus One coming to Sprint and from what he told me it looks like the Nexus One will be coming to Sprint in April. We will see!!!”

For Sprint’s sake, I pray that the above intel is legit. It wouldn’t make sense for Sprint to pass on the Nexus One, especially if it means them being the only major carrier in the US without it. Even AT&T may get their own 3G capable version. If you’re a Sprint user and are on the wire about whether to stay or bounce–stay. The Nexus One is coming. I’m almost sure of it. The real question is… when?

UPDATE: I just saw this picture over at AndroidForums. It’s from less than a month ago and shows a live chat conversation on Sprint’s site that confirms the Nexus One. However, I’m not sure how authentic it is. It’s strange that it only merited a single response.