Why Apple’s iPhone doesn’t do high-speed mobile phone networks (yet)

“One of my colleagues in the ex-Forrester Mafia is Paul Callahan, who rightfully questions why Apple’s iPhone doesn’t support high speed, third generation (3G) phone networks and/or High Speed Download Packet Access (HSDPA; who comes up with these absurd and untypable acronymns?). Instead, iPhone only supports the ubiquitous GSM/EDGE standard,” Carl Howe writes for Blackfriars’ Marketing.

How argues that there are three pretty compelling drivers for this conservative decision:

• The exclusive Cingular deal
• The bundled apps
• Built-in WiFi

Howe writes, “Apple went conservative on the phone network since it was, after all, their very first phone. If this one works and sells well, they’ll get to do more versions with more bells and whistles, just as they did with the iPod. If it didn’t work because of some glitch or chip availability problem with the high-speed networking gear, they wouldn’t sell any, and that would be that for Apple phones. Which decision makes more business sense?”

Howe writes, “Even using good old GSM/EDGE technologies, my prediction is that Apple will sell every single one they can build for the next 18 months. Those that just have to have high-speed can wait for iPhone 2.0. But for the majority of phone users, iPhone is plenty drool-worthy as it stands.”

Full article here.

Related articles:
RealMoney: Apple just blew up the whole damn mobile-phone supply chain with its new iPhone – January 11, 2007
ZDNet: Hands on with Apple’s iPhone: ‘elegant, ravishing, simple, sleek; impeccable & intuitive UI’ – January 11, 2007
Apple iPhone FUD campaign begins – January 10, 2007
Nine ways Apple changed the face of consumer electronics yesterday – January 10, 2007
Analysts and investors applaud arrival of Apple iPhone – January 10, 2007
Top 10 things to love and top 10 things to hate about the Apple iPhone – January 10, 2007
How Apple kept the iPhone top secret for 30 months – January 10, 2007
Hands-on with Apple’s iPhone – January 10, 2007
The only thing really wrong with Apple’s iPhone is its name – January 09, 2007
Is Apple building ‘The Device?’ [revisited] – January 09, 2007
Analyst Bajarin: Apple’s iPhone and Apple TV are industry game changers – January 09, 2007
Time: ‘iPhone could crush cell phone market pitilessly beneath the weight of its own superiority’ – January 09, 2007
Analyst: Apple iPhone should be given its own category – ‘brilliantphone’ – January 09, 2007
Cingular to use Synchronoss Technologies’ platform for Apple iPhone – January 09, 2007
iPhone photos from Apple’s Macworld Expo booth – January 09, 2007
Enderle: Apple’s iPhone is going to do very well – January 09, 2007
Apple debuts iPhone: touchscreen mobile phone + widescreen iPod + Internet communicator – January 09, 2007

FUD Alert: Analyst – I am pretty skeptical Apple’s iPhone can succeed – January 11, 2007
The Register’s Ray: Apple ‘iPhone’ will fail – December 26, 2006
Analyst: Apple iPhone economics aren’t that compelling – December 08, 2006
CNET editor Kanellos: ‘Apple iPhone will largely fail’ – December 07, 2006
Palm CEO laughs off Apple ‘iPhone’ threat – November 20, 2006


  1. I hope that is the reason they don’t have the high-speed option. In the UK, we have 3G, which my last 2 phones have been. On the Orange network, there’s very good 3G coverage and having used 3G to access the ‘net, or when using the phone as a modem to my MacBookPro, there’s a very clear difference between GPRS and 3G in terms of speed!

    Besides, we’ve got to wait at least 6 months after you guys in the US anyway. My concern is when the phone does arrive on our shores, that it doesn’t get tied to a network like 02: of all the networks we have Orange is the best for me by a good stretch…

  2. I am one of those who will be just happy with iPhone 1.0. EDGE is good enough for the minimal web and email I do on my current phone (which lacks wi-fi). I don’t watch TV on my phone, if I did, I would rather just buy the shows on iTunes and download them to my phone so that I can watch them when I want to.

    I just want to ditch the crappy Windows “Smart”phone I have now. I gave MS another chance but it’s the worst phone I’ve ever owned (HTC STRTRK). The hardware isn’t bad, but WM5 is just horrid. The iPhone just send Windows Mobile back to the dark ages. Not sure I can wait six months.

  3. Even people who have 3G capable phones don’t use them for that purpose, since the price for usage is ridiculously high. Besides; why on earth would I want to surf the net via 3G when I can do it via Wi-Fi / WLAN, which is twice as fast and much cheaper? Please don’t say “coverage”: If you need to check your email in a corn field, you have bigger issues do deal with in your life…

  4. “United States of Generica” is right, why the hell Apple would increase the price of the iPhone when the AT&T/Cingular 3G network covers less than 1% of the US population… I, even, don’t speak about HSDPA (3,5G) as it does not exist in the US.

    In Europe, HSDPA is deployed only in big cities, and the rate is pretty good: 1,8Mb/s! But again it would increase the price and would not be used broadly. Orange proposes mobile HDTV on HSDPA!

    EDGE (2,5G) is enough for a lot of wireless services (TV streaming in bad quality, email, internet browsing). And actually, the AT&T/Cingular EDGE network is pretty good.

    HOWEVER as the iPhone is not 3G, it won’t be possible to roam in Japan with it.

  5. Excellent.

    EDGE can carry data speeds up to 236.8 kbit/s for 4 timeslots (theoretical maximum is 473.6 kbit/s for 8 timeslots) in packet mode and will therefore meet the International Telecommunications Union’s requirement for a 3G network, and has been accepted by the ITU as part of the IMT-2000 family of 3G standards. It also enhances the circuit data mode called HSCSD, increasing the data rate of this service.
    3G allows the transmission of 384kbps for mobile systems.

    For mail including attachments EDGE is fine, if you are not including large photos or movies. GSM (original acronym: Groupe Spécial Mobile) is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. As Apple has no control over the network they made a wise decision using GSM/EDGE.

  6. I wonder if we will see some specific Apple cell phone plan that cingular will sell the phone with? like one that bundles unlimited data/mms/sms

    i know as it is today cingular forces you to get a unlimited data plan with a “smartphone” anyway.

    i’ve been out of contract since march of last year with cingular, but i was a grandfathered at&t wireless customer, so my plan is amazing and can’t be beat with any carrier right now, so i stay. i guess the iphone will be the phone that makes me downgrade to a cingular plan and sign another 2yr contract! Damn Apple!!

  7. 3G is about to go through another transformation over the next year or so, so with the timing of the launch this probably makes sense. Anyway 3G is no great shakes on the last 2 phones I have had anyway so waiting for improved standards for the 1st update makes a lot of sense rather than cramming it in esp in the States where it is far less advanced than in Europe and Asia which won’t get it untill late this or early next year..

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