Sprint: 40,000 HTC EVO users signed up for Fring and using it 8 hours a day

While we still don’t have any concrete details on how many HTC EVO 4G smartphones Sprint has sold so far, it’s safe to assume that a lot of them have gone out the door — and according to a Sprint exec at a WiMAX symposium Tuesday, some 40,000 of those devices are now using the Fring application for mobile video and voice calls, spending an average of eight logged-in hours per day.

Nathan Smith, with Sprint’s developer program, dropped the Fring-usage nugget on a crowd of about 150 or so developer and VC types who each paid $25 to attend a full-day WiMAX symposium at the engineering school on the verdant Stanford campus here in Palo Alto, Calif. While introductory keynotes from execs at Sprint and Clearwire didn’t do much than reiterate already known facts about the partners’ nascent national WiMAX network, Smith’s presentation and a related one from Clearwire’s products and services VP Dow Draper got a little more in-depth on where network use is headed, and why the EVO launch was so important to getting developers interested.

Draper said that in talking to developers about WiMAX, they would say “that’s great, but where’s the phone?” With the EVO already commercially available and more 4G phones promised from Clearwire before the end of the year, it’s a safe bet that Draper’s contention that “4G will enable video to become the ‘new normal’ ” may be a conservative statement before too long.

The immediate jump of users to Fring, a Skype-like program that is already available on Android platforms like the HTC EVO 4G, is proof that “people are using the devices for video,” Smith said. Sprint has also signed up streaming-video provider Qik as a partner for the HTC EVO.

About Paul Kapustka

Paul Kapustka is a longtime journalist who has spent more than two decades covering the information technology business, Paul most recently has been focusing on mobility and how it has changed the computing and collaborative landscape. His newest project outside Mobile Enterprise 360 is a research and analysis operation called WiFi Journal. He is also editor in chief of Mobile Sports Report, which covers the intersection of mobile technology and sports business. Paul is also the founder of Sidecut Reports, a research firm that covered the emergence of 4G technology in the cellular marketplace.