Ailing Sprint Needs Android Now More Than Ever

The third largest carrier in the US is hurting.  Bad.  They’re watching customers jump ship left and right and they are almost unable to do anything about it.  Even their Simply Everything plan can’t stave off the exodus, with nearly 3 million subscribers leaving this year alone.

This has been a brutal PR week for Sprint, with 3 big blows coming in succession. Monday saw rumors of a 10% workforce layoff coming as early as next month.  With 57,000 employees working for the company, that would be an awful lot of people who wear black and yellow to work.

Yesterday brought the news that Sprint might be shuttering upwards of 20 of their call centers.  This is not what you want for the company who is ranked last in customer satisfaction for two years running.  You don’t want to use terms like “trim the fat”, but let’s hope they have a good sense for where to cut, rather than throwing darts.

Today, Moody’s debt rating agency downgraded Sprint to junk status citing “continuing challenges in turning around its wireless operations amid intense competition and weak economic conditions.” Yes, you can blame the economy for some things, but there’s a limit to consider.  Why aren’t the other providers hurting like this?

“The night is darkest just before the dawn.”    – Harvey Dent

We’re really pulling for Spring to turn things around.  Yeah, we give them a hard time here and there, but in reality, we want them to succeed.  If not for being a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance, it’s for competition’s sake.  The more available options a customer has, the better.

Rich Miner is set to deliver a keynote address at this week’s Developer Conference.  Speculation, and hope, is that he’s there to talk about the first Android handset to come from Sprint.  With all of the hardware companies now lined up in the OHA, someone is bound to have something soon for their network.

While it’s true that one platform is not going to save the company, it certainly won’t hurt it.  As time passes, more companies, bloggers, and analysts are getting on the Android bandwagon.  Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola, Samsung, and HTC are all capable of putting out some very good hardware.  Sprint could do well if any (or all) of those companies offered something Android flavored in 2009.

Sprint would be only the second carrier in the US to provide Android phones.  More importanly, they’d be a much larger carrier than T-Mobile.  If the handset design is right, it could go a long way to helping bolster Android and Sprint‘s reputations.  There’s nothing wrong with adding a would be assassin or two to your lineup.  Let’s see what kind of “iPhone killers” the newly added Sony Ericsson and the rest of the OHA have.  And let’s see what it does for Sprint.

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  1. I would like to think their HORRIBLE customer service is the issue that has lent them almost the last nail in the coffin.

  2. Well, Nights… I’m happy using Sprint. I’ve been with them for at least 5 years and my experience with them has always been WAY better than my past experience with AT&T. Their pricing is great (always has been). Neither Verizon nor AT&T can touch them. Unlimited plans are truly unlimited (texts, data, push email, Sprint TV, etc.), imagine that.

    The problems they’ve had, have always been related to billing issues in my opinion. Random charges appearing on my bill are not rare and always require a tedious process of calls and/or emails to customer support. One agent says one thing, another says something completely different. The next month… it often starts all over.

    Another issue they had was their poor selection of phones, but that has been remedied by and large. Between their range of Blackberries, the Instinct, and the HTC Diamond & Pro… things have been looking up. I’d hate to see them go under. Is it simply a matter of poor management? God knows the Nextel deal was…

  3. I like Sprint quite a bit. I have been using smartphones for the past 3 or 4 years and Sprint gives me unlimited data on mine for $15/month. If they go under I am stuck paying $45-60 for unlimited data on a smartphone and that is just ridiculous. They don’t cripple their smartphones the way Verizon does. They don’t illegally tap our phones for the NSA the way ATT did (does?) and they have vastly more 3g coverage than T-Mobile does.

    Sprint has always been the lesser of 3 or 4 evils as far as I have been concerned. They are the cheapest and most straightforward provider of mobile voice and data I have run across and they always get the best WinMo phones.

    If they can get one of the new Tegra phones in the Spring/Summer, they may be able to save themselves. People are too hung up on advertising and don’t actually compare the bang-to-buck ratio.

  4. I’ve been on a Sprint SERO plan for about a year and a half, and I’m very happy with it. I interacted with customer service 3 times, and the experience was no worse than most companies I’ve had to call in on, and my problems were all resolved.

    My SERO plan gives me unlimited data (which I use constantly), unlimited SMS (use occasionally, but I wouldn’t use it at all if it was billed per message), and 500 talking minutes (of which I rarely use more than 50) for about $35/mo. Data is fast, with great coverage.

    I’m using a Treo 755p which (like all things Palm) is getting rather long-in-the-tooth, but I’ve come to depend on a large raft of applications that I don’t think are available on Android yet (ebook reader, decent memo app that allows categories or some other way to organize hundreds of notes, a password safe, an RPN calculator, editing Word/Excel files, Stereo bluetooth). Hopefully by the time Sprint gets its Android act together, all that stuff will be in place (I’ve seen suggestions that almost all of these are in the pipe already) and I can happily jump ship to Android while keeping my great SERO Plan.

    But long about next fall if Sprint isn’t offering either an Android or Palm Nova device, I’m shopping for a new carrier.

  5. While staying with Sprint I have tried T-mobile, At&T, Verizon, AllTel (soon to merge with Verizon if i remember correctly), never long term just under 2 weeks while thinking about jumping ship (The law in CA is nice sometimes, as long as you know what it is) several times over the last 8 years, or is it 9. I am still with Sprint.

    I have had nothing but good service when mistakes have been made. The latest, in the neighborhood of about 1.5 years ago was a free 755p that didn’t use up the 150 credit that had built up for a new phone on that line. Which was good since my wife washed her uninsured phone twice several months later using her credit and then mine to get it replaced both times.

    There not perfect but they have always tried (and succeeded) to make sure that I was satisfied with the customer service I received.

  6. I switched from alltel to sprint and have been really happy with my choice. The everything plan meets my needs perfectly with no surprises on the bill. Hoping the get an android phone soon.

  7. Honestly, I don’t know if Sprint NEEDS Android, but at this point it wouldn’t hurt them. Listen, if your losing a million customers a quarter there is something wrong beside customer service.

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