Forbes: Apple Computer planning to become a phone company?

“Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs has a reputation for thinking different. But now he might be planning a move for Apple that will leave even his biggest fans surprised–becoming a phone company,” David M. Ewalt writes for Forbes. “It might sound far-fetched, but the pieces are in place for it to happen later this summer. Apple is already developing a hybrid iPod/cell phone with handset maker Motorola. And companies ranging from the Virgin Group to The Walt Disney Co. are proving that a new network model can allow all kinds of businesses to easily enter the mobile market.”

Ewalt explains that Apple wouldn’t be building new cell towers; Disney uses Sprint’s already-existing national cellular network. The concept is called “mobile virtual network operator,” or MVNO.

Ewalt writes, “The leap to wireless could be even easier for Apple, since it already specializes in making cool, user-friendly handheld gadgets, and has sold over 15 million iPod music players to date. With each new generation of the devices, Apple has added features like more memory and color screens. It makes sense that the company would want to merge two devices already in consumers’ pockets, combining a cell phone and a music player… But Apple might have a problem getting the devices into consumers’ hands. Carriers will probably be loath to sell and support it, since they want to sell their own music downloads–not have customers upload tunes from home… The solution could be for Apple to launch its own cellular network, doing an end run around carriers and providing the company with revenue from both selling phone handsets and from the resale of cellular service.’

Full article here.

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32 Comments

  1. sweet – not the fact that Apple may leave it’s area of expertise to make pancakes – but because I was really first…

    Something tells me I’ll be working on the second generation of the Power Tower Pro within 5 years as Apple, deluded by recent successes decides kitchen appliances is the next direction to go in.

    Can anybody say iColander?

  2. Maybe that’s what the rumored deal was with Cingular – to piggyback off of Cingular’s network (the largest in the US) and become an MVNO.

    As far as leaving their area of expertise….they did that with the iPod, didn’t they? And we all know how that turned out.

    MW: true

  3. The advantage apple would have over other networks is that users would be willing to buy their handsets, especially if they doubled as an ipod type device. Other networks have to heavily subsidise their phones and I know very few people who’ve ever actually paid for one outright. Apple could reverse the model and use phone calls in much the same way they use itms – to sell hardware.

  4. ‘…Apple is already developing a hybrid iPod/cell phone with handset maker Motorola…’

    NO THEY’RE NOT!!!!

    MOTO ARE MAKING A PHONE AND APPLE ARE MAKING A VERSION OF ITUNES TO WORK ON IT!

    HOW THE F*CK IS THAT A HYBRID?!?!?!

    THESE JOURNOS NEED A BLOODY GOOD BEATING!

  5. oh! i get it! if you offer a couple of extra software features to a phone built by another company and naturally you are planning to get into the telecommunications business!

    A,P & P, L E?

    MW: “under”
    as in “Dumbest assumption ‘under’ the sun.”

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