For what we think is the first time ever as a publicly traded entity, Clearwire has pre-announced its quarterly numbers for the last fiscal period, with one metric rising above the rest: The company announced 1.9 million new wholesale subscribers, which you can roughly translate into meaning that Sprint has probably sold about that many 4G phones during the quarter since they are pretty much the only wholesale customer Clearwire has that matters.
We could be wrong, but none of our sources have reported a sudden surge in Clearwire plans from any of its other wholesale partners, including BestBuy, Comcast or Time Warner Cable — so you can pretty accurately guesstimate that Sprint’s 4G leadership pace is continuing, with a small increase over the 1.7 million 4G subscriptions Sprint activated in Q2. Of course, Sprint doesn’t officially release its numbers until later this month and this bit of a protocol breach probably won’t make things any happier between the WiMAX partners. But after Sprint threw Clearwire (and its stock price) under the bus last week, it’s hardly surprising that Clearwire might not care a whole lot about Sprint as it tries to right its own ship of perception.
For 4G watchers the question for Q3 will be whether or not Verizon has caught up to or passed Sprint in 4G device sales — remember that even though popular perception is that Verizon is ahead in the game the scoreboard still shows Sprint with more total 4G subscriptions. And Verizon only added 1.2 million new subs in Q2 to Sprint’s 1.7 million. Of course Sprint may be in for some fiscal course-corrections itself sometime soon after its Network Strategy day last Friday produced a stink-fest of reviews from the folks who matter quite a bit, the financial analysts. But we doubt that Sprint is happy that its 4G phone subscriber number is already out there.
UPDATE: Looks like the strategy worked, CLWR stock is up almost 27 percent at the end of trading Thursday, gaining 35 cents to finish at $1.65 per share. Clearwire CFO Hope Cochran e-mailed Sidecut Reports explaining that the early release of numbers had to do with her appearance at a financial-analyst conference this week where presumably her presentation would include the released numbers.