A listing for an unannounced and previously unknown HTC Windows Phone smartphone with dual-mode GSM/CDMA support for Sprint has appeared on ebay. The phone, listed as the HTC Maaza had been used for 5 months before being listed for sale, which means that Sprint had intended the phone to be the successor to the currently available but long in the tooth HTC Arrive, which has been updated to Mango, but has yet to be confirmed for the Tango update.
The Maaza was also to feature a 3.8 inch 800×480 resolution display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8GB of internal flash storage (5GB available to the user) with 576 MB RAM / 512 MB ROM to match the increased requirements for Windows Phone Mango, FM radio, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi N, GPS/A-GPS support and the aforementioned GSM/CDMA support. The listing mentions that SIM cards from AT&T and T-Mobile function with no issue despite the listing for international roaming support only mentioning European bands for network access. For this phone to be listed and sold on ebay represents Sprint’s current feelings regarding Windows Phone, as the operating system languishes on the marketplace compared to Android and the iPhone.
Even with HTC’s above average commitment to Windows Phone, carriers are actively shying away from supporting the platform unless there’s enough manufacturer assistance in terms of marketing in order to make the development expense worthwhile, as evidenced by AT&T and T-Mobile being the only US carriers to actively promote the platform since its official launch in late 2010 with phones from various manufacturers such as Nokia and HTC, while Sprint and Verizon are content to tout Android and the iPhone while carrying token HTC Windows Phone models that have yet toreceive major updates, to the detriment of the platform on those carriers.
The five months of usage as claimed in the listing also means that Sprint was planning to take another chance on Windows Phone, but may have decided that the investment was not worth it this time around as it shifts focus to its LTE network and ramps up promotion of its version of the Galaxy Nexus with LTE, which will launch in mid-summer simultaneously with the LTE network. HTC may have also refused to provide additional assistance in terms of marketing and promotion for the phone, making the phone less important to Sprint compared to other phones that were in development at the time.
The listed $800 price for the phone also reflects its rarity as a development model, as the phone was never officially listed as a future model slated for release on roadmaps but did complete the necessary carrier testing before being officially submitted for FCC testing, which is necessary in order for the device to be commercially launched to the public.
For Sprint to cancel development on the Maaza means that it does not see the need to offer the platform to its customers after the relative failure of the Arrive, which may also explain why the vast majority of HTC Arrive stock is now being sold through virtual operators such as PrePayd Wireless, complete with Sprint branding and packaging.