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Sprint Prices Instinct At $129

Overland Park, Kan. — Sprint priced its Instinct touchscreen multimedia phone at $129.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a two-year contract whose service plan includes unlimited data. Those plans start at $69.99/month, including voice minutes, and run up to $99.99 for unlimited voice and data.

The Instinct price, which includes 2GB microSD memory card, comes in under iPhone 3G prices of $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model when activated with two-year contract that includes an unlimited data plan starting at $30 a month on top of a voice plan starting at $39.99 a month.

Instinct, positioned at the start as an iPhone competitor, will be available June 20. The iPhone 3G will make its debut three weeks later on July 11.

“The Instinct price “is definitely lower than we initially expected,” said a Sprint spokeswoman, who also pointed out that “initially, we did not have pricing completely hammered down.” During the phone’s debut at the CTIA convention, a company representative said the phone would be priced less than $300, but that was before Apple announced that the iPhone 3G models would be priced $200 less than current iPhone models.

In a distribution announcement, Sprint said its Instinct distribution would open to indirect channels at launch, whereas the iPhone 3G will be available only through Apple- and AT&T-owned stores. On June 20, Instinct will be available through Best Buy, wireless specialty stores, Sprint-owned stores and Sprint’s Web site and telesales group. Best Buy is the exclusive indirect retailer of the Instinct through August 28, when sales will be opened to other retailers.

To launch the Instinct, Sprint promises “a great deal of print and TV advertising,” a spokeswoman said. “This will be the first time in a while in which we do advertising focusing on one specific device.”

Sprint is typing sales to an unlimited data plan, the spokeswoman noted, because “this is a device that works at its best with unlimited data.” For example, she said, users can search for a business in the phone’s contact list, get the address and phone number, plus turn-by-turn driving instructions to the address and access the company’s Web site, all from the device, she explained.

For individuals, Instinct plans with unlimited data start at $69.99 for 450 voice minutes, and family plans with unlimited data start at $129.99 per month for 1500 voice minutes to share between two lines. Sprint’s Simply Everything Plan offers both unlimited nationwide voice and data services for $99.99 per month, including unlimited GPS navigation, email, Web surfing, and Sprint Music Premier and Sprint TV Premier services.