Sprint (S) To Sell iPhone Knock-Off

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If you can’t beat them, copy them. Sprint (S) will begin to offer a touch-screen phone that looks great deal like the Apple (AAPL) iPhone. It should be available for the holiday sales season.

According to Reuters "like iPhone, HTC’s Touch — set to go on sale on November 4 — lets users surf the Web or navigate their photo albums by moving their fingers across a touch-sensitive screen. But at $249.99, Touch has a lower price tag than iPhone’s $399." (Taiwan’s High Tech Computer Corp makes the handset.)

The new product has one modest advantage over the iPhone. It runs on Sprint’s high-speed 3G network while the Apple product uses the AT&T (T) 2.5G network. The Touch also runs Microsoft (MSFT) mobile software and supports corporate e-mail, but it is hard to tell whether those features will draw customers.

The new handset does have two big drawbacks. First, it is not made by Apple, and, therefore, lacks cool branding and curb appeal. The other is that it is being offered by Sprint, which has the rare distinction of being hated by most of its wireless customers.

Game. Set, Match.

Douglas A. McIntyre