Sprint (NYSE: S) announced it will sell the new BB-8 App-Enabled Droid, a toy based on a character from the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, in its stores -- including its new RadioShack stores -- and online. The carrier boasted that it is "the only wireless provider to offer the BB-8 nationwide."
Unveiled as part of Disney's "Force Friday" -- Disney today is announcing all the toys related to the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie that hits movie theaters in December -- the BB-8 is a remote-control toy that costs $149. It's essentially a real-life version of the R2-D2-style robot in the upcoming Star Wars movie. The toy does not feature any cellular connections, but can be controlled by an iOS or Android app.
The BB-8, build by Sphero, has been described as one of the most anticipated toys to be released alongside the movie. Thus, Sprint appears to be using the toy to drive traffic into its stores.
That strategy follows Sprint's purchase of 1,435 RadioShack stores as part of RadioShack's bankruptcy. Sprint in April roughly doubled its company-owned retail footprint by opening 1,435 Sprint/RadioShack stores. Those stores offer devices and services from Sprint and Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands. Before the transaction, Sprint had around 1,100 company-owned retail stores, a smaller retail footprint than any of its rivals. Sprint said the expansion of its retail footprint means it will add around 3,500 new jobs.
The addition of a highly anticipated new toy to Sprint's retail locations, including its RadioShack stores, could entice shoppers into the outlets and give Sprint an opportunity to sell its services to them.
The BB-8 isn't Sprint's only promotional effort. Earlier this week the company said it added 4 GB and 6 GB options to its DirecTV promotion. Sprint is offering all DirecTV customers a year of free Sprint service, including 2 GB of free data, and last week the carrier added a 4 GB option to that offer for $10 per month and a 6 GB option for $20 per month.
- see this Sprint post
Sprint adds more data options for DirecTV customers who switch- but they're not free
Ho's Perspective: Can Sprint get any respect?
Sprint set to open 1,435 co-branded locations with RadioShack tomorrow