Analyst: Sprint could get iPhone by end of 2011

AT&T had an exclusive on selling Apple's iPhone here in the US from its launch until earlier this year when Verizon finally got the rights to sell the popular smartphone as well. Now an analyst is predicting that Sprint could be the third US wireless carrier to sell its version of the iPhone and that it could happen by the end of 2011. According to a story in Barron's the analyst, Shing Yin of Citadel Securities, states, "we believe Sprint could capture more than its fair share of iPhone sales, especially if it gets the new model at the same time as AT&T and Verizon."

One of the reasons behind his prediction is Verizon's decision to ditch its unlimited data plan for new smartphone customers. Starting on Thursday, people who start a new smartphone contract with the company will have to pick from a number of data plans with a cap and deal with overage fees if that cap is exceeded. Current Verizon customers who already have an unlimited data plan will be able to keep that plan if they decided to upgrade to a new phone.

According to Yin, that means Sprint's current unlimited data plans might make it a good place for Apple to sell the iPhone. Yin believes that if Sprint does sell its own version of the iPhone it "could offer an attractive proposition for more price-conscious user." He adds that it "could be a relatively stronger seller than the Verizon iPhone." The next version of Apple's iPhone is predicted by many to become available in September.

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