updated 09:00 am EDT, Wed October 27, 2010
Sprint losses double in Q3 after big Android adds
Sprint had mixed results today for the summer that gave it a heavy cost for the popularity of Android. It had its second straight quarter of adding users after years of losses, adding a total of 644,000 users, more than half of which (354,000) were subscribers moving to devices like the HTC Evo 4G and Samsung Epic 4G. The costs of handling upgrades, however, led it to roughly double its losses from a year ago to a net $911 million.
About a tenth of all non-prepaid users upgraded their phones in the summer, Sprint said. The results helped drop its regular subscriber turnover rate down to 1.93 percent, its best ever for a summer quarter.
The carrier can mostly credit Android to preserving much of its share and has been helped by having the only mainstream 4G cellular network to go with the devices. Both the Evo 4G and Epic 4G can download at up to 6Mbps, or roughly twice as fast as the practical speeds on HSPA networks from AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint has nonetheless grown slower than most of its competitors, as the iPhone helped AT&T add 2.6 million users while even the slowing Verizon has gained almost one million owing to its reputation for Android models.
Most of its hopes for the fall hinge on Android again with its three budget Android models as well as the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The only other major release known so far is the BlackBerry Style.
During Sprint's conference call, the company admitted that other carriers like Verizon would "be on our heels" with 4G phones next year. It hinted that unlimited cellular Internet access was likely to remain part of its plans, but tiered pricing might come about to lower the price of data.