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By Matt Burns

Windows Phone 8 is hitting Verizon (VZ), AT&T (T) and T-Mobile this year. But Sprint (S) customers will have to wait until 2013. For unknown reasons, the carrier is not getting any versions of the Nokia or HTC WinPhone 8 handsets at launch.

Perhaps Sprint’s hesitance has something to do with the lackluster performance of Windows Phone 7. This is a wise move.

Wireless carriers often dump large sums of money to carry phones at launch. They want to have the hot new devices as soon as they’re available. Sometimes the stacks of cash are tall enough to net exclusives like AT&T’s Nokia 920 deal. Then, most often, the carriers launch flashy advertising campaigns to draw in the crowds. These are expensive, too. All this is done to hype a phone that might sell in high numbers.

Last March AT&T sold the Nokia Lumia 900 exclusively. The carrier said it was its biggest launch ever. The phone wasn’t technically a flop as it met some estimates, but it wasn’t a hit either. Have you seen one in the wild? I haven’t.

Sprint hasn’t had good luck with Windows Phone. It wasn’t impressed with Microsoft’s mobile platform earlier this year. It only sold one WinPhone device: The ho-hum HTC Arive. Apparently Sprint is taking a cautious approach to Windows Phone.

Windows Phone 8 could flop. It’s not going to slow down Android’s explosive, global takeover. iOS will continue to dominate the U.S. market while commanding a good chunk overseas. And lastly, RIM, yes RIM, is set to launch BlackBerry 10 in early 2013. I agree that Windows Phone 8 is intuitive, novel and pretty damn neat, but it doesn’t have the loyal fanbase or corporate draw of BlackBerry. Windows Phone and BlackBerry will spend 2013 fighting for third place and my money is on RIM.

If you’ve been dying to jump on the Windows Phone bandwagon, you’re going to have plenty of options – but Sprint is not one of them. Stuck in the middle of a corporate buyout and running low on cash, Sprint isn’t going to risk anything on an unproven platform. That’s smart.

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Source: Sprint Will Wait To Launch Windows Phone 8 Until 2013