pdf transcript), Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure spoke briefly about Sprint's embattled prepaid brands, which lost 264.000 customers last quarter. He blamed the losses on stiffer competition and fewer prepaid promotions from Sprint than usual. He said that Sprint's Boost Mobile prepaid brand actually increased its subscriber count both last quarter and last fiscal year, which ended March 31. That means that Sprint's prepaid loses came from its Virgin Mobile, Sprint Prepaid and Assurance Wireless brands.
It's hardly surprising that Virgin Mobile and Sprint Prepaid are losing customers. Both brand's plans are overpriced compared with Boost and the industry in general. Virgin and Sprint Prepaid also frustrate current and potential users with very limited phone selections and a policy of not allowing users to activate Sprint phones they might already own.
As for Sprint Prepaid, it looks like it might be on its way out. Fierce Wireless and Wave7 Research are reporting that Sprint Prepaid phones have disappeared from Target and Best Buy Stores. All but three of Sprint Prepaid's 10 smartphones are sold out on the Sprint Prepaid website and the three that are left are deeply discounted. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sprint Prepaid disappear this year.
Assurance, Sprint's Lifeline brand, is definitely disappearing. Sprint has reached an agreement with Kroger Stores' i-wireless to merge Assurance with i-wireless' Access Wireless Lifeline brand. Sprint would own 70% of the combined company which would operate on the Sprint network. The combine will operate under the i-wireless name will be run by i-wireless management. Current Assurance employees would become i-wireless employees. Claure said that shedding Assurance would allow Sprint to "focus on our core prepaid brands".
Expect to see Boost and Virgin offering more refurnished iPhones and Samsung Galaxy devices soon. According to Claure, Sprint is going to be getting "millions and millions" of used devices from its iPhone Forever and Galaxy Forever programs. Those programs let postpaid customers trade their old phones for Apple or Samsung's latest every year for an additional monthly payment of between $22 and $30.50. Claure said these phones will be refurbished by Apple and Samsung and resold to Sprint's prepaid customers.
Sources: Sprint, Fierce Wireless