Struggling national carrier Sprint saw the smartphone side of its business bolstered in the past quarter by strong iPhone sales, the company announced Wednesday. The carrier, which began offering iPhones last October, said that it sold 1.5 million iPhones during the first three months of 2012, with 44 percent of those sales going to new Sprint customers.
While the total number of Sprint’s iPhone sales were down from the previous quarter — the company sold 1.8 million iPhones in its debut quarter on the carrier — the percentage of sales going to new subscribers, which is the most desirable number for cell carriers, rose 4 percent.
Sprint, the smallest national carrier to offer the iPhone, was bested by rivals AT&T, with 4.3 million iPhone activations, and Verizon, with 3.2 million. However, Sprint’s business saw an overall growth of 263,000 subscribers beating the much larger Verizon, which added about 240,000 subscribers on the quarter, and AT&T, which netted only 7,000 subscribers.
“Sprint posted easily the most impressive [quarter] in U.S. telecom,” said Kevin Smithen, an analyst at Macquarie Securities.
The news is good for the company that paid a premium price for the opportunity to offer the iPhone.
Sprint shares were up in the early afternoon trading session, trading at $2.50 per share, up $0.03 (+1.21 percent), on strong volume.