Will Apple Become a Wireless Service Provider?By: Sean Patterson - May 1, 2012
How would a world look in which Apple not only manufactured iPhones and provided the iOS software platform for iPhones, but also provided wireless service for iPhones? If you are an Apple fan, that probably sounds like heaven. If you’re not an Apple fan, you are probably thinking that Apple couldn’t possibly be worse than current carriers. Regardless of which side you fall on, the question might not be completely hypothetical if one wireless industry strategist is correct.
Boy Genius Report (BGR) is reporting that Whitney Bluestein, an industry strategist who has managed deals for carriers and manufacturers such as Apple and AT&T in the past, is stating that Apple will begin selling wireless service to iOS device users in the near future. BGR’s Zach Epstein quotes Bluestein in his article:
“The battleground is set, but Apple will be the first mover,” Bluestein said while speaking at the Informa MVNO Industry Summit in Barcelona. “Google will have to scramble because it lacks retail distribution, experience with subscriber services and the iTunes ecosystem of content. iTunes and the iTunes Store provide Apple with one-click buying and customer care. Google can acquire most of these capabilities, as it has before, but it is not a core competency of the company.”
I’m not really sure why Google would have to scramble. Google already makes 4 times more mobile revenue from iPhones than Android phones as it stands now. The goal behind Android was to provide a free platform for manufacturers to build upon and provide Apple with competition, not for Google to take over the market. No, this would be a problem for current carriers and for Samsung, HTC, Motorola, and other manufacturers who would be excluded from an Apple carrier network.
Bluestein is citing Apple’s solid distribution channels, customer base, iTunes credit card records, and some network architecture patents filed in 2006 as proof that Apple has the means to become a carrier. It all sounds very speculative and incredible to me. I don’t see Apple heading in this direction, mostly because I don’t see the company making the huge upfront investment that setting up a nation-wide network infrastructure would require. Still, it is a juicy rumor that a small part of me hopes is true. After all, Apple as a carrier could frighten the complacent carriers we currently have into providing some decent, un-capped service at more reasonable prices.
What do you think? Will Apple challenge AT&T and Verizon at their own game or is this all just attention-garnering hokum? Leave a comment below and let me know.