Short of AOL and Time Warner’s merger, the Sprint/Nextel marriage was the kind of train wreck you generally only see on Jerry Springer. As in, $29 billion down the tubes, and continuing costs maintaining Nextel’s network that cling to Sprint like a fart.
Or did, rather.
The basic problem is that Nextel has been circling the drain for years now: Much of the merged company’s customer losses have been due to people running away from Nextel.
But with the upcoming Softbank merger, Nextel is finally being sent to the big farm where all the animals play and nobody is sad:
Sprint reported today more than 1 million customers from the Nextel side of the business left the service in the fourth quarter. The company, however, was able to recapture about half those subscribers and move them over to Sprint.
Sprint has been focusing a lot of its marketing dollars and efforts on bringing back customers lost on the Nextel side, but Euteneuer warned that the rate would fall to 30 percent to 40 percent in the coming months as the company lets some of the less profitable customers go.
Yes, apparently Sprint and Nextel are still two separate companies, despite the fact that they’re the same company in practice.
Anyway, this really is a graceful exit for Nextel, in the sense that it gets to be wrapped up and shut down instead crashing and burning.
On the other hand, their major contribution to American culture was that incredibly annoying walkie-talkie fad about six years ago, filling the malls and movie theaters of America with obnoxious chirps and grainy audio over loudspeaker. So screw ‘em.