Sprint PCS Sees Huge Data Uptake
By Carlo Longino, Thu Jan 08 22:00:00 GMT 2004

US CDMA carrier Sprint PCS says it's seeing huge numbers of ringtone and game downloads, showing the US market may be warming to data. In fact, the numbers they're touting seem almost too good to be true.

At the CES show in Vegas, Sprint made several announcements about their music and games downloads, but clearly the most impressive part is that they're saying their 2.7 million CDMA2000 1x subscribers downloaded 20 million ringtones and over 5 million games last year.

Those numbers seem suspiciously high -- an average of 7.4 ringtones and just under 2 games per user -- but we'll roll with it. Also keep in mind that the 2.7 million subscribers to the 1x "PCS Vision" service is just a fraction of the carrier's 20 million or so total users.

These numbers are pretty stellar, even if they're skewed by early adopters and young, saavy recent customer additions. Sprint says total sales of two tones of songs by pop singer Beyonce each sold more than 500,000 copies -- the number of hard-copy sales needed to acheive gold-record status. But other US carriers are also reporting booming growth in their data revenues, with Cingular's third-quarter data revenues double what they were in the second quarter, Verizon seeing 4 million software downloads a month,and AT&T says about a quarter of its users spend at least $3.50 a month on text messaging.

While I can't help but have some doubts over Sprint's numbers, I don't disagree that data use is starting to take off here in the States based on my own experiences. I know now that if I send a text message to most any of my friends, they'll get it and read it and even respond, instead of just wondering what that funny little envelope icon means. Lots of people I know that use Sprint have picked up their cheap camera phones, and I hear personalized ringtones just as often as I used to hear the Nokia tune. So perhaps the tide is turning...