Analyst: Sprint iPhone 5 Good News for Apple

Following reports that U.S. cell carrier Sprint will be supporting Apple’s yet unreleased iPhone 5, UBS analyst Maynard Um is saying that addition of another service provider is good news for the Cupertino-based company.

Sprint was listed as a new iPhone carrier by unnamed sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal earlier this week. Those sources also claimed that the iPhone 5 launch would happen some time in mid-October.

iPhone on Sprint? Could be.Sprint could open the iPhone to 52 million new customers

“We believe that the addition of Sprint as a carrier for iPhone is a logical extension of Apple’s strategy,” Mr. Um said. “The company has increasingly moved away from the exclusive carrier model and has been using country and carrier expansion as one way to drive growth of its iPhone and iPad lines.”

He added that he expected a late September iPhone 5 launch, but that a mid-October rollout would have little negative impact on Apple’s bottom line compared to an earlier release.

Rumors have been targeting September and October launches for the next iPhone, although Apple hasn’t offered any hints as to when the new combination iPod and smartphone will ship. In previous years, Apple released new iPhone models in the late June/early July window.

Bringing Sprint on board would expose the iPhone to an additional 52 million potential customers in the United States. Sprint is currently the third largest cell service provider in the U.S. behind Verizon and AT&T — both of which are already carrying the iPhone 4.

Mr. Um is maintaining his “Buy” rating and US$510 target price for Apple’s stock. Apple is currently trading at 374.45, up 0.85 (.023%).