Palm Pre Cannot Rescue Sprint from Second-Quarter Loss - Page 2

Turning Around Public Perception
Sprint's Hesse also described the challenges of turning around public perception to meet the new realities of the company, particularly in an ailing economy, and given that Sprint has two networks-iDEN and CDMA-and two customer bases.
Addressing the decline in subscribers that Sprint has faced over the last three years, Hesse explained, "A big element of that has been the hit the brand took in 2006, 2007, when we did have some service issues, and we've improved that."
He continued, "It takes awhile, when that happens, for perception to catch up to reality. There are no quick fixes, if you will. You'll see gradual improvement. ... We're working on all fronts. But there are no silver bullets. It is customer experience, it is new handsets, it is 4G. We're hoping that we'll begin to see that move up."
In addition to the Pre and the Samsung Instinct s30, Sprint exclusively offered the Sanyo SCP-2700. It began offering the BlackBerry Tour on July 13, and in the quarter added the Novatel Wireless MiFi 2200 mobile hot spot to its lineup, along with the Samsung Exclaim, the HTC Snap and the CapTel 800i for hard-of-hearing users.
Sprint is also the network provider for Amazon's Kindle and Kindle DX.
"I think that's Sprint in the unenviable position of trying to transform itself in a difficult market," analyst Charles King with Pund-IT, told eWEEK.
"And in a market as cut-throat and difficult as the mobile phone business, when a company gets a reputation for bad service, it takes an awfully long time to convince people otherwise."
King acknowledges that Hesse is working hard, and some of the results of this have yet to show. He describes the Pre as "still ramping up" and the Amazon Kindle as having, as yet, still very limited commercial appeal.
"But it's great to have those products on board-any one of them, over time, should deliver some benefits to Sprint," said King, adding the Sprint had also recently outsourced the operation of its wireless network, which could free it from some expenses.
To a list of the ways Sprint is working hard to become a new company, Hesse would surely add its push to 4G, which has already been encouraged through the Mi-Fi router, which works with dual-mode 3G/4G phones.
"We're announcing a number of markets that will launch 4G at the end of the summer, and a bunch more that will launch during 2009, and then of course we'll launch a lot more in 2010," said Hesse.
"We believe that being the only player in the market with 4G, and the distinct capabilities of that-and it's not just the new devices that are required to operate on 4G, but with the mobile hot spot, or any device that has Wi-Fi built in, and there's, as I mentioned, 425 million of them, which can become mobile 4G devices immediately. ... We think 4G will be a very significant differentiator for Sprint going forward."
It's fair to say, said Pund-IT's King, "that Sprint is doing everything that it can to reverse the direction the company had been on prior to this. ... They realized they needed to make some serious changes, add compelling products, get out from under some heavy expenses, and they're working hard to do all those things."
King continued, "I don't think anyone is ready to dance in the aisles at this particular point. But they recognize their problems, and they're doing what they can to fix them."