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. I’d much rather see Apple develop a VOIP version of iChat. Can you imagine how cool it would be to have an H.264 powered way of making traditional calls over a P2P based (as opposed to AOL server based) system?

    I don’t think it makes sense to incur the infrastructure costs of making a cellular network, if you’re simply trying to sell some iTunes capable cell phones. VOIP is infrastructue free.

    And who knows? Maybe a Bluetooth compatible cell phone could be patched in to it. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  2. Well it make work if they hope onto someone elses network.

    But cell phones are very different from mp3 players – a lot more competition.

    Question is can Apple make money out of the business?

  3. T-mobile might be up for sale come this December. They already have a solid GSM network here in the US.

    Who knows… Perhaps Apple can either buy them or merge.

  4. Perhaps Apple’s new phone with Motorola will link with your home computer via BT and allow you to use VOIP to call someone else on thier home phone. Something similar to Skype.

  5. RE: MDN Take: You can’t sign up yet, it is just speculation at this point. I am sure Apple will have news on there website when and if the service becomes available.

  6. The only thing that makes sense is for Apple to team with some wireless company be it Cingular, Verison, T-mobile or whoever.

    Apple had a run at being a service company: eWorld. That failed and then Apple teamed with Earthlink (even bought a piece of them). That worked at least well enough so Apple still has that relationship going.

    Apple could do the same thing by bypassing Moto or Nokia or the rest and team with a wireless service to have a cool, high speed service for an iPod/phone combination and high speed wireless for laptops. The wireless company could even offer unique services for Apple customers. What would we give to be able to wirelessly use our Apple iPod/phones or Apple laptops and have the Apple ease of use factor in being able to link back to our home (or corporate office) systems while on the road over a secure VPN style connection?

    Today I can sit in an airport waiting for the next flight and use my PowerBook to wirelessly link into the home office over a VPN connection and update my calendars, etc. with those my home machine subscibes to. Then I can update the calendars, etc. in my cell phone. It was not trivial to set up, and it is a two step process to update my cell phone (update my laptop then sync my cell phone to my laptop).

    A service provider which teams with Apple to make this simpler and a single step process for an Apple iPod/phone device would be a great step forward.

    I’m not sure this is a wise move for Apple — it is not that much different from what is possible now except for the Apple ease of use factor, but it is much more sensible than Apple starting their own wireless service.

  7. The cell phone business doesn’t have a “Apple”. What I mean by that is there is no phone company out there making a cell phone system like a mac (or even windows). I have never seen a easy to use cell phone. Cell phones in my opinion are the worst and most poorly designed consumer electronic product out there. The are complex for no particular reason. Most are butt ugly too with blue lights etc. They have too many non-phone thing on them (camera for one). If you lose the instructions booklet forget about doing something new with one. That said I don’t see Apple getting into this business, although they would change that industy like they did with music.

  8. Great, all the world needs is a bunch of zealot Apple phone users spewing their arrogant nonsense all over everyone who uses a “MOTO Razor” or below….

    PLEAZE GOD..No

  9. How about this? The iPhone uses VoIP when in WiFi range for TCP/IP calls and calls within your intranet for free, but when you out of range it reverts to a cell phone. Orange have a similar scheme which joins your cell phone and home landline into one.

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