At current rates this commitment would be valued at $20 billion and Sprint would have to subsidize the cost of each phone by about $500 to keep the price the same as its rivals.
Directors debated what they had just heard. Some worried the payoff would be too long in coming. One member questioned whether the multiyear deal might outlast the iPhone's popularity. To sell that many iPhones, Sprint would have to double its rolls of contract customers, convert all of them to the Apple device or a combination of the two.
"This is a bet-the-company kind of thing,'' said a person familiar with Sprint's decision-making. The projected hit to the company's operating income is "staggering," the person said.
According to the WSJ, Sprint's board ultimately signed off on what was internally referred to as the "Sony" project. The consensus was that Sprint could not compete without the iPhone.
"How can we pass this up? We have to have it," the person familiar with the matter said.