Before the iPhone, Steve Jobs wanted to make Apple its own mobile carrier

“Steve Jobs initially hoped to create his own network with the unlicensed spectrum that Wi-Fi uses rather than work with the mobile operators, said wireless industry legend John Stanton,” Nancy Gohring reports for IDG News Service.

“Stanton, currently chairman at venture capital firm Trilogy Partners, said he spent a fair amount of time with Jobs between 2005 and 2007,” Gohring reports. “‘He wanted to replace carriers,’ Stanton said of Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who passed away recently after a battle with cancer. ‘He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision.'”

Gohring reports, “He said that after around 2007, Jobs gave up on the idea. But Jobs still managed to have a major impact on wireless operators, Stanton said. ‘If I were a carrier, I’d be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Orifices.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Brawndo Drinker” and “Lava_Head_UK” for the heads up.]


  1. I dont think we’ve heard the last of this. The carriers control far too much of the Apple experience and their data caps are contrary to what Apple wants their users to do, which is consume more content.

    If there’s one thing we’ve learned, Apple likes to control the entire experience.

    1. I agree. Apple does want complete control, and that stash of cash on hand must be for something big. They’d have to do it at least nationwide, all in one fell swoop, with the ability to expand to the rest of the world. They could run around existing providers by launching their own Sat dish system, but there’s still the issue of the royalty scheme (go to market strategy) that the media cartels likely would not support.

      A number of years ago I recall receiving an anonymous questionnaire about my WiFi usage, whether I would consider sharing if it gave me free access in other areas to and offered paid compensation for public use of mine in high traffic areas. I was pretty sure it came from Apple so I filled it out and was disappointed when the ideas it proposed never came to fruition. I have been watching for a new surprise “buried” feature to be added to the Airport/AppleTV/TimeMachine devices ever since. This article makes it sound like the concept is dead. I hope not.

  2. Uh, have you ever wondered what that $70 billion in liquid assets is meant for?

    Apple could throw up its own network if it so desired (of course, getting FCC approval might be another matter).

    Not saying Apple will try, but it doesn’t hurt to have the ol’ “We can buy you or build a network that will crush you” in your back pocket during carrier negotiations.

    1. This would have severely limited their global reach. They might’ve been able to pull this off in the US, but they’d have to repeat the process in every single country they want to operate in, build their own towers (or piggyback off existing ones)… it would’ve been a logistical nightmare, and traditional carriers would’ve kept iPhone market share in the very low single digits, after Android copied the look and feel and jumped onto existing infrastructure.

      I am very relieved they went with a more traditional cellphone system, even if they had to give up some control.

      Maybe in the future. But not now, and certainly not at launch in 2007.

  3. Apple could build a US network for $5B-$10B. Really not that much compared to the $100B they will have in the bank next year.

    For maybe $20-30B they could launch a global satellite network, like Globalstar or Iridium tired back a decade ago. Possibly at this point the technology will have advanced enough that the resulting phones would be more usable… but I’m not sure about that, it is a tough problem.

    They could afford to build a global cell network, but the problem is, every countries laws are so arbitrary, and so many governments would line up to pick their pockets that it isn’t even funny. The only possibility is to do an end run around governments in some way.

    1. RE: Government pickpocketing

      Yeah, that’s what makes me think it’s really unlikely that they would start from scratch.
      Recall that throughout their engineering character they also advocate reusability, modularity and pertinently not re-inventing the wheel, but rather standing on the shoulders of giants and going one step further.
      So I think they will continue to leverage the existing internet infrastructure both cellular and wifi so that they cannot be singled out as a target for shutdown or taxing, and transition ever so slowly away all traces of the old telephony system.

  4. Cringely made a prediction along these lines about that time, that Apple or someone would create a long-distance wifi network to bypass the wireless carriers. At least that’s my vague recollection.

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