Whitey Bluestein, a veteran wireless industry strategist who has managed deals for companies such as AT&T, Intel, T-Mobile, Verizon and Microsoft, believes that Apple is planning to become a direct mobile service provider. Gasp. Shriek. Yell. Seriously?
Bluestein offered that Apple “has the distribution channels, digital content portfolio and customer base to make the move,” along with “more than 250 million credit cards on file for iTunes users who could be billed directly for wireless service.”
Does this mean Apple has wireless spectrum just lying around its Cupertino campus? Not exactly. Will the company purchase one of the Big Four carriers? Eh, maybe getting warmer? Apple apparently has patent-pending network architecture from 2006, meaning it potentially has the tools to tackle such a venture. Why would Apple even consider such a thing? If the company did attempt to purchase a wireless carrier, would regulators let it happen? AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile didn’t exactly go as planned.
Bluestein opines that Apple will “be the first mover” in the war with Google to transition over to becoming a wireless provider. “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.”
Apparently lacking a competent wireless infrastructure isn’t even Apple’s biggest obstacle, should it make such a move; it’s 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 said.
Apple is, according to another analyst, facing pressure from wireless partners because of the unsubsidized $600 price carriers need to foot in order to offer the iPhone. Bluestein’s logic seems to play off this analyzation. Apple’s handset is still the number one smartphone on all of the carriers here in the U.S., so such carrier revolt is highly unlikely.
An Apple HDTV? Maybe. An iPhone 5? Definitely. Offering its own wireless service? I’ll believe it when I see it.