Sprint Nextel Corp. will begin selling the new version of the Apple iPhone in mid-October, people familiar with the matter said, filling a huge hole in the No. 3 U.S. carrier’s lineup and giving Apple Inc. another sales channel for its popular gadget.
The timing, however, indicates Apple’s new iPhone, which is expected to be called iPhone 5, will hit the market later than expected and too late to contribute to sales in Apple’s fiscal fourth quarter, which ends in September. Most observers had expected the device to arrive next month.
The deal could help prop up the nation’s third-largest carrier and give AT&T Inc. more ammunition in its attempt to win regulatory approval for its proposed acquisition of No. 4 U.S. carrier T-Mobile USA Inc.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest wireless carriers, measured by subscribers, will begin selling the phone in mid-October as well, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Sprint had more than 52 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter, compared with 106 million for Verizon and nearly 99 million for AT&T.
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