updated 09:30 am EST, Thu February 7, 2013
$1.3 billion net loss blamed partly on iPhone subsidies
Sprint has posted the results of its holiday quarter, during which it suffered a net loss of $1.3 billion. The company blames that partly on subsidies for the Apple iPhone, however, of which it sold a record 2.2 million, compared to the 1.5 million it activated in each of the three previous quarters. 38 percent of Q4 iPhones were sold to new customers. In all Sprint sold over 4 million LTE smartphones throughout the quarter, including the iPhone.
For the whole of 2012 Sprint says it sold just under 20 million smartphones, of which 6.6 million were iPhones. Within the latter, about 40 percent went to new Sprint subscribers. The carrier continues to sell basic "feature" phones as well, which in Q4 made up 11 percent of sales.
Sprint has invested heavily in the iPhone. In 2011 it committed $15.5 billion towards buying iPhones over a period of four years, and projected a deficit in 2012 because of it. The subsidies it pays are believed to be extremely heavy, but the carrier is hoping to turn a long-term profit through monthly fees.
The Sprint LTE network is currently accessible in 58 cities. Plans are to expand to almost 170 more in the next few months, and construction efforts have started in over 450.