Sprint Loses Its Wireless Data Crown

Posted by: Olga Kharif on January 23, 2007

If we were searching for yet another proof that not all is well at Sprint Nextel, here it is: Today, IDC announced that Sprint no longer makes the most money per subscriber from wireless data services, like music and video. Verizon Wireless has outpaced Sprint for the first time. At Verizon Wireless, an average subscriber paid $7.27 a month for such services in the third quarter. At Sprint, this total came to only $7.15.

While the gap isn’t that wide, it’s certainly worrisome. For several years now, Sprint has been the undisputed leader in wireless data services: It was the first to introduce wireless video services to its subscribers, for example. Now, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that, while the company is focusing on integrating its Nextel acquisition, its focus on data is slipping. Already, Verizon Wireless will be the first to deploy MediaFlo, a wireless TV broadcasting service, to its subscribers this month. Sprint is still in mobile TV trials.

While Sprint used to be the first to introduce cool new phones to its subscribers, it was now among the last to make the Razr and other popular phones available to its users. Its line-up of music phones is, arguably, not as strong as some of the competition’s.

Sure, Sprint’s WiMax plans, such as introducing a single calling plan that can be used with multiple devices, sound very cool. But its large-scale WiMax deployment is almost a year away. Unless Sprint’s management focuses on wireless data now and starts catching up soon, it might be left behind. And then, even WiMax won’t save it.

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Reader Comments

Mona L.

January 24, 2007 01:43 AM

Sprint losing lead from heavy outsourcing.
poor and little experience management at many levels. lack of attention to what they are doing. many former Sprint employees gone to work for competitors.

time for a merger or a target for takeover by AT&T or Verizon.

MXJerry

March 23, 2007 05:30 PM

A takeover or merger is not likely due to competitive/monopoly/anti-trust reasons. Sprint is slightly behind the competition in introducing new phones/devices. They were slow to introduce RAZR and Q, but their data network is still the best. Also, they maybe making less money than Verizon, but for consumers its a great win! $15 for a broadband connection on the phone is unbeatable. I still challenge the value of video on the current generation of phones. In 1-2 years, devices will have enough battery power and large enough form factor (& yet small enough to fit your pocket!) to support video. Mobile youtube is not a big hit yet. Where Sprint has lacked is in building a strong brand for itself. I see them as an innovator company while the others are building a more broader customer appealing brand: VZ->most reliable, AT&T->largest network, TMobile-> the flashy minnow

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.

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