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Sprint Wields Samsung Blade

Operating chief Len Lauer indicates the thin flip phone should power a strong quarter.


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says a big yellow ad campaign and a hot new phone are setting the scene for a strong fourth quarter.

Operating chief Len Lauer told investors Tuesday at the UBS Global Communications Conference in New York that the company expects to add 1.4 million net new wireless users in the quarter ending Dec. 31. Lauer also emphasized that Sprint is on track to recognize some $14.5 billion worth of so-called synergies from this year's merger with Nextel, in part related to a decision not to build Nextel's third-generation wireless network. Those figures are in line with guidance Sprint has offered in the past.

But Lauer saved his strongest praise for the Samsung Blade, the razor-thin fold-out phone whose imminent release could boost Sprint on the customer-addition front this holiday season. The Blade is black and barely half an inch thick, and it comes chock full of features like a 1.3-megapixel digital camera and the crucial Bluetooth connectivity technology. Lauer suggested Sprint expects the Blade to bolster Sprint's standing among wireless trendsetters the way



Razr helped rival Cingular. The Blade is expected to be released within weeks.

Lauer said the Blade isn't the only weapon in Sprint's possession. He was optimistic about a new advertising push and about what he called a stronger relationship with retailer

Radio Shack


. Lauer also spoke highly of Sprint's Power Vision video-over-phone offering, which claims to offer 20 channels of live TV.

On Tuesday, Sprint shares fell 19 cents to $24.99.