Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) has been on a roll lately. The third-largest wireless carrier in the U.S. has been releasing a whole crop of new cutting-edge phones, has improved its customer service and seems to be on the way to a recovery. Well, everything but that last part.
Sprint Nextel, yet again, lost hundreds of thousands of customers in its most recent quarter in spite or marked improvements throughout its business.
The carrier reported a loss of just over 800,000 postpaid contract wireless customers on the way to a $478 million loss, as larger competitors AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless added millions of new subscribers during the same period. Even though the iPhone on AT&T has been the subject of fierce quality controversy recently, that is apparently not keeping millions from activating the iPhone at the hands of AT&T's "barely able to keep up" network.
Amazed that a single phone has had this much impact? You shouldn't be -- Apple has some kind of magical power over products and marketing that's rarely (if ever) matched in any industry. And, that is a huge thorn in Sprint's side at the moment, even with all the newer phone launches recently.
Can Sprint's aggressive stance on prepaid wireless help it stay afloat? That's part of what CEO Dan Hesse is apparently betting on. For now, it seems like nothing short of a planetary collision will stop customers from leaving Sprint for the competition. And, the sheen on Hesse's triumphant return to the wireless sector is starting to dull a bit. Sprint simply cannot continue quarter after quarter of losing hundreds of thousands of customers. Maybe it should have paid anything and everything to start carrying the iPhone way back when it was launched in 2007, yes?