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Sprint Avoids Google's Android Craze For Now

Despite its membership in the Open Handset Alliance, Sprint execs say are noncommittal about offering a smartphone based on the Android operating system.
Sprint remained committed to offering a smartphone with Google's Android operating system, but the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier is still noncommittal about a timeframe.

"We believe in the vision for Android, so we want to see it get bigger and get healthy," Kevin Packingham, Sprint's VP of products, told Bloomberg News. "We can, when the timing's right, pull the trigger."

Sprint is a member of the Open Handset Alliance, an industry consortium with the goal of spreading the open source Android to multiple handsets and Internet-connected devices. With more than 50 million subscribers, Sprint's backing would throw some weight behind Google's mobile platform in the United States.

The third largest U.S. mobile operator is struggling to keep and attract new subscribers, and it posted a $326 million loss last quarter. The company sees smartphones as a strong growth area that can help it get back on track.

"We've just got to make sure our customers are saying, 'If you had a phone like this, man, I would really be more interesting in Sprint because of it," Packingham said.

This bodes well for Android, but Sprint CEO Dan Hesse recently said that Google's mobile operating system is "not good enough to put the Sprint brand on it." He did not elaborate on what exactly wasn't up to par, but Hesse did say the carrier would carry Android-powered phone "at some time in the future."

The Android operating system was unveiled in November 2007 and customers are still awaiting more handsets. So far, T-Mobile's G1 is the only smartphone users can buy, although handsets have shown up from Krogan and Lenovo. But, it looks like consumers will have to wait until the second half of 2009 for more Android-powered smartphones from the likes of HTC, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson.