When Sprint announced its acquisition of Nextel five years ago this month, I anticipated that Sprint would shut down or sell-off its Nextel unit while transitioning its users to push-to-talk (PTT) services over its CDMA technology. Sprint thought so (and publicly announced it) too and eventually turned down investing in iDEN technology. Five years later, through subsequent network quality issues, mishaps in rebanding, declining sales, increasing churn, Sprint announces that instead, it will discontinue support for PTT over CDMA using Qchat, and continue to invest in iDEN PTT. They even offer a few devices that converge both iDEN and CDMA networks for those that want both. And every operator sells their flavor of PTT today anyway, but Sprint’s remains the best. But does it make sense to continue balancing multiple network technologies and going to a single source (Motorola) for iDEN network infrastructure and most of its devices?
What is Sprint’s strategy here? In the past few years, Sprint’s strategy seems to have been to not have one specifically–but be all things to all people. How’s that working out? Not so good it seems. Even though Sprint has improved financially in 2009, it still lags its competitors in net subscriber additions, leads in churn for some segments–and continues to lose enterprise mobile market share to AT&T, Verizon–and even to T-Mobile this year.
I’m glad to see Sprint has a strategy for iDEN, CDMA, WiMAX (through it’s Clearwire venture) I just don’t know think if it’s the right one. Rather than be all things, it should really pick one and just be the best. A focus would surely turn both its reputation in the enterprise and its finances around.