Neither Sprint 3G or 4G is inside the iPad, and – unlike AT&T and Verizon – the carrier doesn’t even sell the Apple tablet in its stores, but that doesn’t stop CEO Dan Hesse from being mighty thankful to the slate all the same. According to Hesse, brisk sales of the carrier’s 3G/4G Overdrive mobile hotspot are for the large part down to WiFi-only iPad users wanting to get online via Sprint’s CDMA/WiMAX network. However, he declined to talk to GigaOm about the iPhone and potential relationships with Apple.
That reticence has already started tongues wagging – as the interview has it, Hesse “declined to comment and politely added that Sprint doesn’t comment on its relationship with vendors and the conversations it has with third parties” – over what potential negotiations may be going on behind closed doors between Sprint and Apple. Of course, it’s also good practice to deny nothing when you have no news to share, and an outright “there’s nothing iPhone-shaped from Cupertino headed to Sprint any time soon” probably wouldn’t do the carrier’s stock any favors.
It’s not just the iPhone that people want, Hesse says; in fact they’re just looking to smartphones in general. Apparently nearly 60-percent of new handset sales or upgrades are for smartphones, and the carrier expects half of its Sprint-brand customers to have the devices by the end of the year.