10:57 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman

Sprint Relies On Apple To Sell Products

Sprint's latest wireless accessory, the ZTE Peel, works only with Apple's iPod Touch. Though it doesn't offer the iPhone, Sprint is still banking on Apple for sales.

The ZTE Peel first came to light several months ago. It is a case that attaches to the Apple iPod Touch. It houses a 3G cellular radio and a Wi-Fi radio. It connects to Sprint's 3G network, and uses the Wi-Fi to provide Internet access for up to two devices. This product was designed from the ground up as an accessory for an Apple device.

The iPod Touch runs Apple's iOS platform, and is nearly identical to the iPhone. It offers most of the same features, the major exception being cellular voice and data services. The ZTE Peel adds 3G data, but not voice. In other words, you still won't be able to make phone calls -- at least using Sprint's voice network -- via the iPod Touch.

The Peel has a 900mAh battery inside and is good for three hours of browsing. It costs $80. Sprint is offering a Peel data plan for $30 per month, which allows for 3G access up to 1GB. This data plan doesn't require a contract. If you ask me, $30 for 1GB is pretty stingy. Most smartphones can access 5GB of data for $30 per month.

Beyond the Peel, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse recently indicated that the Apple iPad has been a big help in selling Sprint's WiMax mobile hotspot products. The iPad is available in two wireless configurations: Wi-Fi only, and Wi-Fi + 3G. The 3G one is only compatible with AT&T's cellular network. iPad owners that want to use the iPad away from their office, home, or local coffee shop need to have another source of wireless data. Enter Sprint's Overdrive.

The Overdrive is a WiMax / EVDO mobile hotspot creator. It can access Sprint's WiMax and 3G networks and provides mobile hotspot access for up to five other devices. When the iPad first launched, Sprint went so far as to launch a case for the iPad that included a pocket to hold the Overdrive.

Sprint may not sell Apple's iPhone, but it is doing its best to capitalize on Apple's success to sell its own devices and services.

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