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It looks like the iPhone 5 will be available in October this year, but what’s probably just as noteworthy is that it will be carried by Sprint.  As a Sprint customer myself, the significance of this is obvious, but what does this mean for Sprint? And what are the implications for Verizon and AT&T and their customer base?

It seems investors are already feeling more confident in Sprint, with stocks up 10% following the news. And it’s not just the investors; many customers are ecstatic about the prospect of upgrading to the best-selling smartphone in the US.  For years Sprint customers have had to make do with inferior devices, and it’s only in the last few that devices such as the Palm Pre and HTC Evo have rewarded a mixture of loyalty and frugality. When it comes to plans, Sprint has always been one of the least expensive options out there, and this has probably been one of the main reasons why customers maintained their relationship with the carrier.

Taking into account the “unlimited” data plans that Sprint offers, at the cheapest prices, with the soon-to-come iPhone; could this be enough to keep both the existing customers and attract new ones? And is Sprint’s infrastructure prepared for the extra load of these data-intensive users? Look no further than AT&T for a life lesson there, and whose own frustrated customers will be weighing up Verizon and Sprint as alternatives to their frustratingly poor connectivity.

So come October, despite the iPhone 5’s arrival, devices will no longer be the primary differentiator and determining factor for which carrier to choose. And it’s this leveling of the playing field that will ultimately place the focus back on the carriers and their plans, infrastructure, customer services and stores.  After all, your device is only as reliable as the carrier it’s connected to.

Bradley Hebdon

Bradley Hebdon

Founder & Editor at UXbyDesign
Bradley is a User Experience Leader with over 15 years of interactive experience. He is currently employed as Director of UX at Slalom Consulting's Southern California office.
Bradley Hebdon

@bradleyhebdon

UX Leader, Designer & Blogger. Tweeting for UX by Design
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Bradley Hebdon
Bradley Hebdon

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