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Sprint gets into the Google Apps resale business

Sprint's move is part of a bigger push into the business area, even as its consumer business continues to suffer subscriber losses.

Lynn La/CNET

Sprint hopes its partnership with Google will help mean inroads to new business customers.

The nation's third-largest wireless carrier by subscriber said on Wednesday that it plans to resell Google Apps, which include Gmail, Google Docs, Spreadsheets, and others, to businesses starting Aug. 18. In addition to the apps, Sprint is offering additional customer support, training tools, and mobile expertise.

The move is part of a broader shift by Sprint to focus on business customers -- an area where it is behind larger rivals AT&T and Verizon -- even as its consumer side continues to falter. By going beyond selling simple cellular service add offering apps and services that improve a business's productivity, the company hopes to set itself apart and build stronger relationships.

"The hope is companies will be happy enough with the service that they would consider Sprint (for wireless)," said Mike Fitz, vice president of Sprint's business services unit, in an interview.

Sprint is selling Google Apps independent of its wireless service, so there's no obligation to get both as a bundle, Fitz said. Sprint takes a cut from Google when it sells Google Apps to a new customer, but Fitz declined to provide more details on the financial arrangement.

Fitz also noted that SoftBank was a top partner to Google and a key seller of Google Apps, and that he had learned a lot from the Japanese carrier's experience. SoftBank is the parent of Sprint.

Fitz also teased more business announcements to come as the company expands its presence in this area.