Palm Pre Can't Save Sprint, But Boost On Fire

Despite “record” sales of its Palm Pre, Sprint Nextel (S) is still losing more customers than it’s bringing in.

Sprint, the no. 3 U.S. wireless carrier, lost 257,000 subscribers last quarter, including 991,000 contract (“postpaid”) customers. Meanwhile, larger rivals AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ) both grew by more than 1 million postpaid subs last quarter.

That’s especially bad, because postpaid customers spend more per month on service than prepaid subs, are are typically higher value. But most of the postpaid losses were on the Nextel walkie-talkie side of the company, which even the Palm Pre can’t do much to fix. (And some of the losses were Sprint customers moving from one service the company offers to another.) Sprint did not disclose sales of the Pre so far.

Meanwhile, the Nextel-based Boost Mobile prepaid service is on fire, with 938,000 net new subs last quarter, led by the newish $50/month Boost Unlimited plan. Sprint doubled down on prepaid by buying Virgin Mobile USA yesterday, which has about 5 million subscribers.

Image: Michael Lehet

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