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Sprint Reportedly Bets $20 Billion on iPhone, Getting iPhone 5 Exclusive?

Call it a case of risky business. According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint has committed to purchasing at least 30.5 million iPhone units over four years whether they can sell them or not. In an attempt to compete with AT&T and Verizon, Sprint is reportedly bringing the Apple sensation to their iOS-starved consumer base to the tune of $20 billion.

Selling iPhones on Sprint shouldn't be too hard, especially since Sprint is the last carrier with a truly unlimited data plan. But as with most tech, today's iPhone can quickly become yesterday's BlackBerry. The other dilemma is keeping the phone's price tag within a wallet-friendly range.  In the past, an unsubsidized iPhone has cost upwards of $600 meaning Sprint would have to absorb at least $400 of the cost to make it attractive to Sprint customers. If Sprint finds itself unable to move all those units it could spell the end for the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S.

To make matters worse, Dan Hesse, Sprint CEO, reportedly told Sprint's board that the company would be on the losing end of the deal until 2014. So what would make Sprint basically bet the farm on a potential endgame strategy? There's a jaw-dropping rumor that Apple is making the iPhone 5 a Sprint-exclusive during the October 4 press conference, while AT&T and Verizon are slated to get iPhone 4S models, upgrades to the iPhone 4 for now and the iPhone 5 sometime next year.

While a Sprint exclusive is improbable at best, it brings the anticipation for the upcoming iPhone 5 press event to a fevered pitch.