If I had to guess what tune is playing around Sprint these days, I'd go with "The love shack is a little old place where we can get together..."
Speaking on the carrier's third-quarter earnings call this morning, Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said he could not comment on the speculation directly, but what he did say made it clear a deal between the two was inevitable -- or at least should happen. (See Sprint Plans to Meld TDD, FDD LTE Spectrum.)
Sprint's three fundamental principals for attracting customers, as outlined by Claure since day one on the job, are a great network, compelling offers and distribution. While it's actively working on the first two, distribution has been lacking. (See Sprint CEO: Price Cuts First, Best Network Next .)
Claure said Sprint has 3,000 fewer stores than Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and 500 to 600 fewer than T-Mobile US Inc. Sprint, he said, needs to open at least 500 stores this year and is looking at many different opportunities to do so.
"Distribution growth is needed to continue to attract more customers to the Sprint brand," he said.
Sprint has also seen an uptick in foot traffic to the retail stores it does have, up 10% in the third quarter over last year, so its need for a bigger presence is quickly growing. Claure said many came in to Sprint stores to cut their bill in half, but ended up taking other plans. Sprint will focus on highly targeted, customized offers for its customers this year, he said, in a bid to reduce churn, which came in at 2.3% this quarter. (See Sprint & T-Mobile CEOs Tweet-Battle Over Super Bowl Ads.)
Sprint is certainly trying to make a bigger splash with its aggressive promotions, screaming goats and network upgrades. I imagine a flashy flagship store akin to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s, and now AT&T and Verizon, is on its radar as well. Online hasn't trumped retail entirely, it's just upped the game for everyone, wireless operators included. (See Pics: Verizon's Chicago Destination Store and Photos: AT&T's New Chicago Playland.)
As for the other big Sprint rumor of the month -- that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is launching a wireless service over Sprint's network -- that was also a no comment from Claure. The two are bound by confidentiality agreement, he said, another statement you might want to interpret to mean it's definitely going to happen soon... (See Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge and Republic Welcomes More WiFi-First Action.)
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading