When reflecting a bit on innovation in the carrier space today, I noticed that Sprint in the US, despite all it's financial turmoils and customers leaving in the millions is not only innovating in the "me, too" fashion but is also going ways others are not going. Here are my examples:
The Amazon Kindle, so far only available on Sprint's EV-Do 3G network is a unique differentiator. Maybe not for the carrier to subscriber relationship but for attracting similar applications and companies they can work with in the future.
The Palm Pre has received lots of good marks already before its launch and I wonder what made Palm select Sprint and not one of the other carriers to launch their new device with. Maybe because AT&T's got the iPhone, T-Mobile the GPhone and so on, so Sprint is probably much more interested in pushing the device.
And WiMAX, not to be forgotten, even if it has been / is in the process of being spawned off to a different company. While long term success with that move is not certain, one positive effect it has had on the industry as a whole is that the other camps had to hurry up with their next generation wireless network plans. I wonder, if Verizon would be as pushy with LTE as they are today if there were no WiMAX from Sprint?
By going those different ways they might or might not be able to pull themselves out of the decline at some point, that remains to be seen. In any case, however, their moves are pushing others forward. Also, some of their ideas might at some point also jump over to other networks. In other words, competition at work.