Sprint Requiring Wi-Fi On All Future Smartphones

My, how the tables have turned. The bickering from mobile carriers over the inclusion of Wi-Fi on higher-end devices is still fresh in our minds, as just a few years back many companies viewed it as a rival to 3G, and thus, a rival to mobile data revenues. Today, however, things have shifted dramatically. It's not really the data network that's profitable any more, but the applications and such downloaded for one's phone.

Of course, it matters not what kind of data network is used when an app is purchased, it only matters that the app is purchased and some of that revenue goes the carrier. In the case of Apple's App Store, none of the revenue from application sales goes to AT&T, which gives it even more reason to wish for users to use Wi-Fi overly the costly 3G. This week, Sprint announced that it would be demanding cellphone partners to include Wi-Fi on all Sprint-branded smartphones going forward, which means that an all new version of RIM's BlackBerry Tour must be created to suit Sprint.

The Tour, which is RIM's newest BlackBerry, is just about ready to hit Verizon Wireless and AT&T airwaves, but it lacks Wi-Fi in its current form. Sprint has announced intentions to carry the same phone next year, but with Wi-Fi included. For the most part, mobile operators now want users to tap into Wi-Fi as much as possible in order to reduce the strain on their 3G networks. The demand for mobile data has skyrocketed in just the past couple of years, giving these companies more reason to get people off of them when possible. Of course, with Sprint rolling out the nation's first true 4G network, we suspect it's just a matter of time before it requires all incoming smartphones to support WiMAX. Now that'll be the day!