Sprint is out on the street touting USA Today’s interview of Sprint CEO Gary Forsee. Hit read more to find out why he is dead wrong in the direction Sprint is headed.
Well, that at least got your attention. No, I don’t have any personal grudges against Mr. Forsee or really, most topics policy-wise. That was, until I read his USA Today interview. It was the usual grin-and-greet type of interview, the only small thing of notice was his denial-but-then-anything-could-happen style answer to if AT&T or MCI could be bought out by Sprint.
However, Forsee took advantage of the last question in order to make a major Sprint policy statement.
“Ron Insana: If there were one product or service that you could outline as being most exciting in your future, what would it be?
Forsee: Without question, the intersection of wireless data and wireline data. But I think our real strategic advantage is going to come from our ability to make that intersection work. And the catalyst for that will continue to be our investments in wireless data … wireless mobility data, if you will … to make that intersection for enterprise customers, for business customers a real key differentiator for us.”
Now, while the focus on data is a major enhancement, Forsee is taking the quality of their customer’s pocketbooks over the number of potential pocketbooks it could tap for newer data services. Obviously, the initial draw to this is pointing out Sprint’s tethered connection policy and their $80+ unlimited data access rates.
As Forsee eloquently put it in his interview with USA Today, Sprint is the only major telecom to have a fully integrated data network that is both wireline and wireless. So why oh why is Sprint charging more than twice as much as GSM carriers to provide wireless, and dare I say computer-accessible data? Simple, because they can market it to enterprise customers at that price. What Forsee and Sprint are overlooking is that they could market that same data network at an affordable price to millions of consumers.
People going to college are buying laptops at a rate that outpaces traditional desktop sales. Sprint needs to tap this, and they could easily. Offering data at a reasonable cost could compete with WiFi, even at Sprint’s current network speed. And because even data applies to the world of supply and demand, Sprint is in a unique position to supply the data to the masses better than anyone else. To put it bluntly, “wireless mobility data” should not just be for enterprise and businesses.
What if Sprint started partnering with device makers? What if Sprint took the revolutionary step to get Aircards into mainstream laptops that you could actually walk down to a retail store and buy? People won’t pay $80 a month, but they would pay $40 a month quite easily, and Sprint could turn a profit with that, especially if T-Mobile can.
Unfortunately, Sprint seems to be solidifying this stance with EV-DO. Don’t expect EV-DO to be cheaper or included with Vision. In fact, I would not be surprised at all if EV-DO rates were as outrageous as Vision prices were at first for consumers. As long as the leadership at Sprint refuses to look at 100,000 $40 a month customers versus 2,000 $80 customers, Sprint will continue to take the wrong path to keep customers and actually make wireless profitable.