updated 08:30 am EDT, Thu October 29, 2009
Sprint loses $478m cash, 135K customers
Sprint today reportedsignificant losses for its summer quarter. The carrier's net losses widened from $326 million a year ago to $478 million but were softened by losing a relatively modest 135,000 cellphone customers; the number is Sprint's smallest loss in customers in the past two years. It now has a total of 48.3 million subscribers and remains the third-largest provider, above T-Mobile but well below AT&T's 81.6 million.
The narrowed loss is attributed directly to a much better device lineup that has kept customers from defecting to other networks, particularly the Palm Pre but also the BlackBerry Tour. Sprint also touts simpler plans and places its hopes for the fall on multiple newer smartphones, such as the HTC Hero, Samsung Moment and the soon-to-ship Palm Pixi.
The company nonetheless says it's disappointed with its results and points to its increased churn, or the turnover in new versus departing customers, as a primary example. Its churn rate increased slightly to 2.17 percent despite its new phone lineup and is blamed both on the typical summer lull as well as on "heightened competition." Unofficially, it's believed the first full quarter of iPhone 3GS sales may have been responsible for some of the high churn; a record AT&T quarter saw about one third of all new iPhone users come from other carriers.
Sprint's results should prove beneficial to Palm as the Pre has helped stem losses and given the carrier a rare flagship device it can use to attract customers. Both nonetheless face a threatening quarter as the impending launch of the Motorola Droid at Verizon not only undermines the significance of Sprint's Android phones but also takes attention away from the Pre's significance.