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.

MacDailyNews Take: Where do we sign up?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Photos of Motorola E790 ‘Apple iTunes phone’ posted online – July 04, 2005
Report: existing Motorola handsets talk to Apple’s iTunes 4.9 – June 30, 2005
MacDailyNews Exclusive: Leaked images of Motorola Apple iTunes phone? – June 29, 2005
Apple iTunes phone image shown by Motorola execs in Beijing? – June 28, 2005
Apple’s iTunes 4.9 contains many hints of iTunes music phone – June 28, 2005
Cingular Wireless considering selling Motorola Apple iTunes mobile phone – June 24, 2005
Motorola CEO: Apple iTunes mobile phone on track for July debut, carriers not balking – May 18, 2005
Motorola expects to launch first Apple iTunes phone this summer, second iTunes phone in 4th quarter – May 11, 2005
Motorola’s Apple iTunes phone software screenshots posted online – May 11, 2005
Will cellphones eat Apple’s iPod or vice versa? – May 09, 2005
Bona fide Apple iPod killer? Nokia’s 4GB mobile ‘jukebox’ phone due by Christmas – April 28, 2005
Can mobile phones and telecoms kill Apple’s golden iPod+iTunes combo? – April 26, 2005
Motorola CEO Zander: Apple iTunes phone due ‘in the next few months’ – April 20, 2005
RUMOR: Apple’s iTunes Mobile 1.0 to be ready by June – April 20, 2005
Verizon, Sprint, other wireless companies balk at carrying Apple’s and Motorola’s ‘iPod phone’ – April 19, 2005
Motorola to unveil iRadio – PC to Mobile to Car Stereo service – April 18, 2005
Will Motorola’s Apple iTunes phone make it to market? – March 28, 2005
BusinessWeek: What’s going on with the Motorola Apple iTunes mobile phone? – March 24, 2005
So who’s really delaying the Motorola iTunes phone anyway? – March 21, 2005
Motorola exec: Apple iTunes phone debut delayed by Steve Jobs; phones will launch in 2005 – March 16, 2005
Motorola’s Apple iTunes phone in trouble? – March 14, 2005
Motorola says iTunes phone unveiling delay not caused by dispute with carriers – March 10, 2005
Motorola says it’s working on more iTunes phones, some models ‘can store eight hours of music’ – March 10, 2005
Motorola indefinitely postpones Apple iTunes phone unveiling – March 10, 2005
Motorola’s ‘ROKR’ Apple iTunes mobile phone to be unveiled this Thursday – March 06, 2005
Motorola’s yet-to-be-unveiled ‘ROKR’ phone will be first Apple iTunes phone – February 16, 2005
Nokia to use Microsoft’s music formats on its handsets – February 15, 2005
Motorola E1060 not, repeat not, the iTunes phone – February 16, 2005
Motorola executive previews iTunes Phone at CES, syncs to iTunes like an Apple iPod – January 06, 2005
Apple’ prodigious hardware and software design skills may help Motorola create iPod phone – December 28, 2004
Apple, Motorola iTunes on cell phones a harmonious deal that benefits both companies – August 05, 2004
Motorola posts Steve Jobs’ Apple iTunes announcement video – July 28, 2004
Apple, Motorola iTunes deal not exclusive, debuts Apple’s licensing of FairPlay DRM – July 27, 2004
Motorola and Apple to bring iTunes Music Player to Motorola’s next-gen mobile phones – July 26, 2004


  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!!!!




  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.”

  6. I actually love this idea. Creative on the analyst’s part. SJ loves to have control over the holistic user experience, and thus, the entire vertical, in business terms. This fits into his philosophy where Apple provides services that integrate tightly with Apple hardware.

    Personally? I would love to see a GSM standard Apple phone, so I can drop in my SIM card from any provider. I prefer the flexibility and voice quality of GSM. However, GSM is losing the 3G race to CDMA.

    So if Apple was to launch a service, CDMA technology would be preferable to them because of EVDO data speeds – the 3G technology that would enable a fast enough iTMS Mobile experience.

    Verizon’s version of EVDO runs at 500 kbps down / 100kbps. That’s as fast as my mediocre DSL, so we are talking about true mobile broadband. It just so happens that Sprint is rolling out EVDO to major markets *as we speak* to be completed by Q3.

    Imagine the potential – How about Airport Extreme2 technology running on Sprint’s Apple-branded EVDO network. Sounds like a great feature to build in standard to the next-generation Powerbook!

  7. I use Virgin Mobile and I love it. I could easily see Apple using a pay as you go model like Virgin and integrating it closely in to the computer biz. How likely ? I would have to say it has a solid 13% chance of happening, but that doesn’t mean its a bad idea. It would give Apple another revenue stream and would further tie customers lifestyles to Apple thus making a switch more difficult.

    Shrewd biz move get’em and hold’em tight.

  8. What a bunch of unimaginative dolts you all are. Look what Apple is doing to the music industry (a slow moving, protectionist industry), they’ll do the same for the telecommunications industry (also a slow moving, protectionist industry).
    Apple has all the technology they need to take the whole industry in a new direction and to a new level.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.