“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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