Sprint loses Packingham, its product development leader at front of the 4G smart phone wave

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sprint executive leading 4G phone charge to leave

SEATTLE — Wireless carrier Sprint Nextel Corp. said Thursday that one of its top product development veterans is leaving the company.

Kevin Packingham, senior vice president of product and technology development, has been with Sprint since 1999. His last day will be Aug. 16, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Walsh Kiefer.

Packingham, 39, is leaving to become CEO of another venture based in Kansas City, Mo. The spokeswoman declined to give further details.

Sprint gained wireless subscribers in the most recent quarter for the first time in three years. It had been losing subscribers ever since its 2005 acquisition of Nextel. That network, incompatible with Sprint’s, is valued for its walkie-talkie-like push-to-talk function but is poorly suited to smart phones.

The Overland Park, Kan., company is making a bet that a faster 4th-generation, or 4G, wireless network will help it turn around the losses. Packingham led the group responsible for launching the first 4G phone, the Evo from HTC Corp., and had just announced a second model, the Epic from Samsung Corp.

Packingham also was responsible for working with outside software developers that make “apps” for Sprint smart phones.

Kiefer said Sprint will not fill Packingham’s exact position. His colleague Fared Adib, vice president of product development, and his manager Steve Elfman, will continue to work on product development. The technology development team will report to Elfman.

Sprint shares dipped a penny to close at $4.47.

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