Could Apple Become a Carrier?

There have been many talks of what Apple will do next with their success. Some say the corporation will enter the television industry with an HDTV later this year, while others think they’ll bring a competitor to Google Glasses — okay, that last one was just for kicks. I personally think these are realistic expectations, but then there are the really interesting ones like what wireless industry strategist Whitey Bluestein claims; Apple will soon begin their own mobile carrier to offer cellular service for their iOS devices. Curious? Keep reading.

Ah, I got you to keep reading I see. Good, because this is where things really get interesting. Bluestein asserted at the Informa MVNO Industry Summit in Barcelona that “the battleground is set, but Apple will be the first mover.” The analyst thinks that Apple has all the information and ecosystem to make things work perfectly already. Speaking of all those credit cards they have on file at the iTunes Store, Bluestein says that Apple could automatically bill all customers on the carrier easily with no extra action required.

There’s even more proof in patents though, since Apple filed some for this network architecture back in 2006. Still, such a thing is never complete proof that something will actually happen — corporations file patents all the time and large ones never end up even using them. This could be an idea that Apple has for the future, or it could simply be something they once thought about and have since dismissed.

All of this sounds pretty fine coming from a “veteran strategist,” but isn’t there some sort of catch? Yes, in fact, there is a rather large one.

“What has been holding Apple back from becoming a wireless provider already, according to Bluestein, are the enormous handset subsidies paid by mobile operators (AT&T, VZW and Sprint in the US), which amount to about $381 for each iPhone sold today,” Bluestein noted. ”That has been a short-term stumbling block for Apple, but the company has its well-known cash reserves and could seize the initiative at any point.”

But there’s so much to be asked here. I’d like to know how on earth they would acquire the spectrum for such a move. Would they purchase Verizon or Sprint? Would they begin building towers, hoping customers will actually want to use the service? Would they charge more for the phones since they won’t be able to subsidize the cost or? Yes, so many questions indeed.

Other than that, the idea itself is pretty ridiculous. Sure, it’s possible for Apple to do everything, but there’s no way that will happen anytime soon. They’d have to spend at least a year building towers around the United States alone — that is, unless they actually decided to acquire a carrier that already has the spectrum. All of this is unrealistic, but it’s something to think about.

What do you think? Is Apple on the path to becoming an all-in-one corporation or will they decline before reaching this feat? Or maybe it’s neither of those and you would argue that Apple is not even thinking of such a thing, which is plausible as well. Tell us your thoughts in the comments!


Post a response / What do you think?