With more people looking to go the pre paid route with their mobile phone dollars, Sprint is making a move to give users that take advantage of their MVNOs a wider selection of handsets with which to choose from. Through it's just announced Custom Branded Device Program, Sprint will allow the Mobile Virtual Network Operators that run on their towers, like Virgin Mobile USA and Voyager Mobile, access to de branded Android smartphones from the Sprint and Boost Mobile catalog complete with volume pricing.
MVNOs will have the ability to customize these devices to remove all traces of anything Sprint, including the bloatware, in order to either add their own bloat or leave the phone completely bare bones, which is something that most of us pay a premium for when buying an unlocked device. These MVNOs would be able to make the branding and customization changes through an over the air update. They way it will work is that the changes will be made through the Mobile Zone and Mobile ID software running on the phone. If those sound familiar it's because it's actually the de branded versions of the Sprint Zone and Sprint ID applications.
According to Bill Esrey, vice president, Emerging & Wholesale Solutions at Sprint "The Android operating system provides such incredible flexibility and supply chain economy of scale that, when coupled with the Sprint Mobile ID and Mobile Zone products, can now extend a value and a new branding opportunity to our wholesale customers. The Custom Branded Device Program enables our MVNO customers to extend a personal and direct relationship that transcends outside of the store walls, at Sprint's volume pricing."
There are currently three handsets available for this program and they are the LG Optimus G, the LG Mach, and the Sprint Flash with more to be available by the end of the month.
By making this move it looks as though Sprint is starting to see the writing on the wall that some people are looking to move away from the standard two-year contract with subsidized handset model that has become all too common here in the US. It's not as dramatic of a shift as what T-Mobile is doing with their new "Un-carrier" plans but it's a start, and at the end of the day it gives consumers more options which is never a bad thing.