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Apple to Become Wireless Provider?

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the everybody-else-is-doing-it dept.

Portables (Apple) 286

nonsuchworks writes "Forbes reports on the possibility of Apple becoming a 'mobile virtual network operator,' or MVNO, in order to extend the iTunes and iPod brands into the cellular phone market. This would allow Apple to circumvent the cellular carriers who have so far balked at carrying the iTunes-enabled mobile phone." From the article: "It might sound far-fetched, but the pieces are in place for it to happen later this summer. Apple is already developing a hybrid iPod/cell phone with handset maker Motorola. And companies ranging from the Virgin Group to The Walt Disney Co. are proving that a new network model can allow all kinds of businesses to easily enter the mobile market."

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286 comments

Yeah right (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013721)

This is about as likely as Apple switching to Intel x86 chips... oh.. wait.

Re:Yeah right (4, Insightful)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014055)

"This is about as likely as Apple switching to Intel x86 chips... oh.. wait."

Or marketing a flash-based iPod.

Now if they'd only finally bring out a two button + scroll wheel mouse standard for their Macs!* :)

*Before I get flamed, let me explain my statement. It is my belief that if Apple finally brought out a two button + scroll wheel mouse, coupled with the always reliable style of Apple, Apple would pick up a lot of sales to the PC market and steal away marketshare from both Logitech and Microsoft, not to mention halt the trend of Mac users buying two button mice from the two previously mentioned companies. My argument has nothing to do with the fact that Mac OS and OS X are designed with the simplicity of a single mouse button in mind. I'm not mocking that; I'm only stating for the record that the vast majority of computer users prefer two button mice and Apple would be wise to begrudgingly accept this and market another sure-fire profitable item for all of us. Especially since Apple seems to understand Bluetooth the best out of all the manufacturers I've mentioned in my rant.

fr1st ps0t!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013726)

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Re:fr1st ps0t!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013858)

Lazy troll, can't even get a proper HTML troll with working links... Slashdot is going downhill lately.

hybrid iPod/cell phone (5, Informative)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013728)

The "hybrid iPod/cell phone" this guy is talking about is just a phone with a "iTunes" on it. I put that in quotes because it's obviously not iTunes. It's a tiny program, probably Java, that plays Apple's AAC files from the iTunes Music Store and looks sort of like the iPod color interface, if the pictures floating around the web are to be believed.

"hybrid iPod/cell phone" Ha!

Re:hybrid iPod/cell phone (5, Informative)

Iriel (810009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013792)

then again, how often does a product sketch turn out like the finished piece? I'm not saying that everything will be rainbows and lollipops on the road to a cellular iTunes service, but that picture could have been made to impress clients and partners at a presentation while the gritty work is still being done 'back at the lab'. A java based iTunes emulator is still possible due to the cross platform capability, but don't sell the idea short just because of a promotional pdf.

Re:hybrid iPod/cell phone (5, Interesting)

illtron (722358) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013863)

Well I think the iTunes phone is a pretty sure bet. Between these shots of the phone: http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000887049175/ [engadget.com]

And the fact that support for them is already in iTunes (yeah, I know it says iPod phone, but that's not the same as a "hybrid iPod/cell phone"):
http://appleinsider.com/image.php?i=itunesiphonepr efs&id=1158 [appleinsider.com]

There's no doubt that it's coming. But it won't be a hybrid iPod/cell phone.

Apple Mobile (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013733)

You can have any phone you like (as long as it's shiny and white and made by Apple), the calls will cost twice as much as any other provider and the Apple fanboys will insist that the calls are far clearer than any other network.

Re:Welcome, outpatient . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013967)

You sound scared and lonely. Do you need a friend?

FINALLY! (0, Troll)

mike77 (519751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013734)

I've always said I want a Cell-Phone/iPod/PDA all in one unit. Looks like it's almost time to empty out my bank account and truly become an Apple Fanboy! :)

Re:FINALLY! (4, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013803)

I've always wanted the cell-phone/iPod/PDA/scooter/mobile sink/microwave oven/television myself.

Let's quit paying lip service to convergance and really get there folks!

Re:FINALLY! (2, Interesting)

mcho (878145) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013836)

Cell-Phone/iPod/PDA

Another PDA cellphone? Unless it's very easy to use, I wouldn't think it would be popular. However, I can imagine a cellphone that was integrated with an iPod -- the two devices, in general, are similar in size, etc.

But I would not think integrating iTunes into a cellphone would be a great idea. Using iTunes on my computer is great (and I've stopped buying CDs since downloading iTunes), but that interface wouldn't translate well onto a cellphone-sized screen.

And don't get me started about watching TV on cellphones...

Re:FINALLY! (3, Interesting)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014113)

"I've always said I want a Cell-Phone/iPod/PDA all in one unit. Looks like it's almost time to empty out my bank account and truly become an Apple Fanboy! :)"

I want an iTunes capable phone, but I won't be buying it if Motorola makes it in a "candybar" form instead of the more popular "flip phone" style. From personal experience, I've received stronger signals from the flip phones. Motorola should bring out a RAZR 2.0 phone with more physical memory, an SD (or whatever) flash memory slot, and iTunes/AAC+Fairplay compatible phone. I might not want to buy tunes over the mobile network, but I certainly want to use my iTunes tracks as ringtones.

Issuing a "candybar" phone to the public at this point reminds me of Atari bringing the Falcon computer to the market in the old school 1040ST case when probably 90% of the interested buyers wanted the machine manufactured in a separate case/detached keyboard like the MegaST/STE & TT lines were. I'm sure the Amiga fanboys on here would also agree with the sentiment in relation to the Amiga 500 and 600 models... But I digress... :)

Re:FINALLY! (1)

toggles (560010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014147)


Sounds great:
1) sign up for wireless and get locked into a two year contract
2) have he non-user servicable battery die on you after 12 months...
3) ????
4) Apple profits..

http://www.ipodbatteryfaq.com/
;-)

It's about time. (4, Interesting)

Iriel (810009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013741)

I always thought that Apple should have made some sort of uber-wi(fi|max) iPod so that iPodders could stream the internet radio stations on an iPod like they could on iTunes. And besides, if it all works out as predicted, this could help crush Bill Gates' dream of destroying iTunes and the iPod and their dominance over the digital music market. It sounds like fun :)

Re:It's about time. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013806)

See this is where I can't stand iPod zealots.

They espouse this romantic notion that Apple is the little guy and they want to see the little guy win.

Apple is now the "PC" of the portable music world. All you Apple idiots who run around with your little rainbow apple stickers on the back of your cars, you're just not cool any more. You're the status quo. And now you think that anything threatening Apple's domination is "a joke" and should be made fun of, well... dominance of any one product is "bad", and competition is "good".

I don't fault Apple for trying to dominate in their product line, thats what they are supposed to do. But just because Bill Gates wants a slice of that pie doesn't make his dream worth crushing, and just because you're a Mac fan doesn't mean you should applaud Apple for every goddamn move they make.

Re:It's about time. (1)

Iriel (810009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013936)

Actually, the only apple hardware/paraphernalia I own is my iPod. Now to set things straight:

While an (iPod/iTunes)cellphone hybrid sounds like a neat idea, I still won't get rid of my iPod for the same reasons that I bought it: It does one main job and it does it well. I also like its secondary function as a portable hard drive, and despite people telling me that media player X is better, none of them have a community around them that gives the product such a large knowledge base. Hell, there's even an iPod Linux distro. I don't think high storage media cellphones can kill off any good media player for the same reason that camera cellphones haven't killed off cameras. Metatools like this usually can't perform their multiple jobs as well as one device dedicated to just one task. This is the reason that I don't like the idea of some half-assed new Windows Mobile OS media cellphone trying to compete with the iPod directly: it's just faulty logic.

A few songs or maybe internet radio streaming through an iTunes cellphone sounds pretty good to me, but attempting to use said cellphone with a different OS to destroy a music player that has achieved such wide success outside of the normal 'mac addict' fan base is like trying to kill a giant with a toothpick.

Because remember, kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014088)

But just because Bill Gates wants a slice of that pie doesn't make his dream worth crushing, and just because you're a Mac fan doesn't mean you should applaud Apple for every goddamn move they make.

Because remember, kids.

What makes a company worthy of "rooting for" isn't its business practices, or the quality of its products, or the way it treats its customers, or whether it represents growth or stagnation within its industry, or its absolute size, or whether it perserves against difficult odds. It's whether it's successful!

Of course, while success is always the only thing that is important, the presence or absense of success could mean different things depending on who you are! So please remember to stay in your faction's acceptable camp of thought:

If you are a "libertarian": Anything successful = good, anything unsuccessful = evil!

If you are a "slashbot": Anything successful = evil, Anything unsuccessful = good!

Remember that thinking outside these guidelines-- for example, being a pro-free-market libertarian yet believing that Microsoft has been a negative influence on the computer industry, or being a slashdot socialist yet continuing to approve of "underdog" companies such as Google or Apple after they have attained some degree of financial success in some market-- will not be tolerated. Anonymous Coward has forbid it.

This isn't wi fi/max is it though? (2, Informative)

mcc (14761) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013821)

It looks like if they'll be doing this, they'll just be piggybacking on Sprint or CDMA or whatever those wacky kids are using these days. The acronym "MVNO" was used.

So if you were hoping for someone to finally break down and start providing 802.16, or make steps toward some other real city-scale wireless internet access protocol becoming a consumer reality, looks like you'll still be waiting awhile.

And from my limited knowlege of the subject, it seems like someone sitting in that MVNO seat rather than taking the step forward into something WiMax-like would be okay with periodic for-pay one-shot downloads like downloading an MP3, but not so okay with allowing some kind of continuous data stream operation (like internet radio would represent) without charging a relatively hefty fee...

Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs (2, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013743)


MVNO

Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs and must venture further into FLAs.

This is an unfortunate start as it looks/sounds like

mv? no.

Re:Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs (3, Interesting)

Steinfiend (700505) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013833)

This post just encouraged me to check out TLA related websites. Starting out with the fount of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, they have a list, spead over several pages, that lists all the TLAs possible. Its scary, randomly clicking on PSA gives 13 possible things it could stand for. And thats just the ones that someone geeky enough to use Wikipedia has entered, there will be many more out there.

In this day and age isn't it just as easy to say (or type) Public Service Announcement as it is PSA? I'm telling you, its UCN. And if you can figure that one out I'll give you 75p and a packet of Rolos.

If you would like to check it out go to this page;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TLA [wikipedia.org]

Re:Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs (2, Funny)

justforaday (560408) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013835)

Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs and must venture further into FLAs.

I thought they were called ETLAs...

Re:Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013900)

We are also out of HLAs, BLAs, and IHAs. Also running low on CPOs.

But don't worry about our SLA stockpile, we will have plenty of those for years to come.

IMO.

YMMV.

rm?no.

Re:Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs (3, Funny)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013932)

Yes. Unfortunatlythe rollover to four letter abbrevations (FLA) will be far less smooth than the rollover from two letter abbrevations (TLA) to three letter abbrevations (TLA). There are several reasons for this:
  • TLA is a TLA, but FLA is not a FLA
  • The abbrevation for four letter abbrevation is not the same as for a three letter abbrevation. This is expected to cause havoc in automated computer systems in much the same way as the year 2000 rollover.

It is interesting how one can determine the age of many UNIX programs by looking at their age. Programs like mv, cp, sh and dc stem from the seventies, whereas programs like cat, sed, gcc, ftp and man where first introduced in the early eighties. While TLAs are still the most common, there has been some FLA early adopters like perl.

Cellphone iTunes? (5, Insightful)

dhanks (588795) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013749)

Who actually listens to music on their cellphone anyway? When's the last time a company built a cellphone just for the purpose of making and receiving calls?

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (4, Insightful)

hardaker (32597) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013790)

Who actually listens to music on their cellphone anyway?
  • Actually, I do. But my phone does it and I have ear pieces... I find it better when flying and other places to do that rather than drain my laptop batteries.

When's the last time a company built a cellphone just for the purpose of making and receiving calls?

  • Admittedly this is a mixed blessing. The one thing you don't want your phone to do is break when you're trying to use it as a phone. But modern phones definitely have that problem, and both my last two phones have either crashed or locked when trying to use it as a phone. That's definitely bad. But yet because I need the other functionality (calendars, lists, etc) because I refuse to carry around multiple gadgets I keep buying a multi-phone even though I know it's going to be less of a phone. Interestingly enough a good friend of mine complains constantly about just wanting a phone that works as a phone. All the time. What did he buy for his last phone? That's right... A treo.

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (2, Insightful)

lhbtubajon (469284) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013813)

This is a serious complaint. The parent could be erroneously moderated as a troll, but the reality is that while a thousand little (and big) functions have been added to cell phones over the last few years, what has been done to improve the quality of the call itself?

For >50 years, developed nations have enjoyed highly-reliable land line phone systems, complete with excellent sound quality (for a phone) and consistent "signal".

I wish phone companies would spend a little more of their time and money making wireless networks as reliable as land lines have been for so long.

Give me a phone that makes and takes calls, doesn't drop calls, and sounds good. THEN talk to me about how it can stream content.

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014204)

When people complain about it enough to cut into their profits, they'll change. People keep paying and bitching in private, so it'll NEVER be addressed in full. There's simply no need to.

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014228)

There are several entry level phones so stop whining.

And most modern phones have excelent quality, if your calls drop etc. you can put the plame to your
cheapo operator.

Btw your problems indicate that you live in the usa..

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013934)

yeah, feature bloat and integration are making things too complicated. combining devices means it does neither function well. take my tv/dvd/vcr for example. trying do merge two devices into one is just dumb.

oh wait, apple is doing it now? where do i sign up?

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (1)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013988)

Who actually listens to music on their cellphone anyway?

I do. I have an in-bound Skype #. I call it and my software auto-answers and plays my playlist over the cell phone. I do this just about every day while I'm at work. I need to get a set of earbuds though, my neck is killing me.

Also, I listen to a lot of music while I'm on hold with my cell phone company trying to get them to explain to me why my cell phone bill is so high.

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (1)

shahken (804676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013994)

You will be surprised as to how many people actually listen to music on their phones. Nokia and SE already have phones that play MP3s and have a decent battery life. (There are more cellphone choices outside US)
Talking about cell phones just for making and receiving phone calls, how about all of the phones touted as "entry level" phones? Eg. Motorola V188

I dont understand why people start complaining when companies talk about adding new features. The argument about improving battery life and reception makes sense - but why complain about new features. You know, the Nokias with MP3 capability are doing well outside US, clearly indicating a good demand for that feature.

Re:Cellphone iTunes? (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014133)

"Who actually listens to music on their cellphone anyway? When's the last time a company built a cellphone just for the purpose of making and receiving calls?"

Speak for yourself. While I don't want to listen to music on my mobile phone in order to replace my separate iPod (because it would eat up the mobile phone's batteries too much - a fact Nokia can't wrap their heads around), I do want it to be able to use iTunes AAC+Fairplay tracks as ringtones. And I'm not alone in this wish that needs to be granted.

YES! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013757)

I am looking forward to a handset that costs 2x as much as the average, but has far more fashion and street cred! (I NEED people to LOOK AT ME!)

It would also be great if I could dial using some form of wheel or other creative method, like a single pressure-sensitive button. This 'numeric keypad' is not intuitive whatsoever.

Actually... (2, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013852)

You'll probably be able to get the phone for a relatively low cost. Most mobile phones are sold for a loss by cellular companies so that they can get people to sign a service contract that more than makes up for the loss they will take from the phone.

I could easily see one of these phones with 100 song capacity selling for as low as $150. You'll be selling your soul and signing a 2 year service agreement though.

My Dad got a phone for $80 with a plan. After he accidentally ran over it about a year later, it would have cost him over $300 to buy a replacement phone that was either the same model or similar to the one he had.

One of these phones probably won't cost much more than an iPod with similar storage capacity.

Re:Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013987)

You'll probably be able to get the phone for a relatively low cost. Most mobile phones are sold for a loss by cellular companies so that they can get people to sign a service contract that more than makes up for the loss they will take from the phone.

-1 Obvious

Re:Actually... (1)

stevo79 (898327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014142)

" You'll probably be able to get the phone for a relatively low cost. Most mobile phones are sold for a loss by cellular companies so that they can get people to sign a service contract that more than makes up for the loss they will take from the phone."

When was the last time Apple sold their products for a loss?

Re:YES! (2, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013857)

I am looking forward to a handset that costs 2x as much as the average, but has far more fashion and street cred! (I NEED people to LOOK AT ME!)

Hopefully it will come w/ a stylish and sophisticated laniard so you can wear the device around your neck... and of course the option to purchase other laniards that match your outfit.

Re:YES! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014020)

Right, so how is the dry wit in the OP flamebait, when the above "Captain Obvious" flogging of the same joke is +2 Funny?? I thought Apple fanboxes were supposed to be sophisticated.

In other words (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013760)

Apple continues to do absolutely everything possible to do everything they can except enter the PDA market.

So expect increasingly powerful phones, increasingly powerful mp3 players, everything else, but as soon as you suspect they might try to harness that power or color screen or brand recognition power to do anything useful, or suggest they could challenge the PocketPC's increasingly total dominance of its segment before it becomes impossible to enter the market, or suggest they could pull out some of the truckload of IP and good ideas they're sitting on from the Newton... GACK! NO! NO SOUP FOR YOU!

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013828)

you soup nazi!!

Re:In other words (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014169)

"Apple continues to do absolutely everything possible to do everything they can except enter the PDA market."

And this is what really bugs me. I'd like to have true PDA function on my iPod. I'd prefer the PDA convergence be with MP3 players than with phones. I would love to see Apple have an option to download a new version of Newton, mini-OS X, or PalmOS onto the iPods. They'd go from 0% to 70% of the PDA market almost immediately with such a move.

Hell, come to think of it, I really wish Sony would offer PalmOS as an optional download for the PSP, considering how WIFI capable it is, and such a pretty screen to boot.

Re:In other words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014215)

I would love to see Apple have an option to download a new version of Newton, mini-OS X, or PalmOS onto the iPods.

So you could do what... "type" entries by scrolling through letters one at a time with the wheel? What good is having a PDA OS on a device with essentially no input?

showing that it can work? (3, Insightful)

drhamad (868567) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013762)

When is the last time you saw someone with a cell phone from one of those so-called competitors?

This is a big market for a company to jump into. Apple may be doing well, but they are no Virgin or Walt Disney, and they don't have those kind of resources.

Apple has surprised us all before at one time or another, but I'm going to say it anyway: I don't think this would happen.

Re:showing that it can work? (1)

Mechanist (10536) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013954)

When is the last time you saw someone with a cell phone from one of those so-called competitors?

At WWDC 2005, why do you ask?

I had my Virgin phone with me. I saw quite a lot of other phones with Virgin's logo on them.

Re:showing that it can work? (1)

vicparedes (701354) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013963)

They don't need a big investment in infrastructure like the old Telcos did. There are numerous MVNO Providers out there that will gladly provide Apple all the necessities to become a service provider.

Re:showing that it can work? (1)

Gropo (445879) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014095)

...they don't have those kind of resources.
Don't they? The greatest cost would be the different aspects of marketing the concept--given that they either partner with a MVNO or become one outright.

Look what deep marketing pockets have done for the iPod to date...

Re:showing that it can work? (1)

The Lynxpro (657990) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014217)

"This is a big market for a company to jump into. Apple may be doing well, but they are no Virgin or Walt Disney, and they don't have those kind of resources."

Apple has $5 billion in the bank and very little (or no) corporate debt at this point. Apple can do what it wants, and if it wants to enter the mobile market in the U.S., whether or not it means using Sprint's or Cingular's network, Apple will.

Sheesh, Apple has a better shot of being successful in the market than Virgin does/did. The teen market and the techies would jump at the chance to have an Apple branded phone to complement their iPods. Just imagine what an iPod/Sidekick combo would do in the marketplace.

And...continuing...Apple is a lot more credible for a mobile phone company than Walt Disney. After all, where's the corporate brain power at Disney thinking about marketing mobile phones to families where the under-12 would be using the phones? Almost all the health studies about mobile phones have stressed than pre-teens should not use the devices. Disney would be setting itself up for a giant class action lawsuit within 10 years if they went ahead with this program, leading to Disney's stock being flushed down Eisner's toilet and Disney itself becoming a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony.

I for one... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013764)

welcome our new wireless iTunes overlords...

Simple. Team up with Walmart. (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013770)

Walmart already has a big network in place. Install a WiFi Max mobile station at each WalMart and you have close to an instant cell network not to mention ISP, and Cable TV replacement. I for one welcome our Walmart overlords.

Re:Simple. Team up with Walmart. (3, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013786)

Install a WiFi Max mobile station at each WalMart and you have close to an instant cell network not to mention ISP, and Cable TV replacement.

Walmart would likely disallow what it deems to be "inappropriate" traffic to flow over its network.

Re:Simple. Team up with Walmart. (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013910)

See, it's really interesting that you mention that because I thought the post office should do the same thing.

The post office could be privatized and use its market penetration in many ways.

you could have a low cost no-frills postal telco pretty soon.

Re:Simple. Team up with Walmart. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014135)

Good grief what would the ping times and packet loose be if the post office ran an ISP?
There are several companies that could do something like this. Infact Compuserve was started by HR Block as a way to use their network and computers when it was not tax time.
Walgreens, CVS, Ford, GM, Chrysler, Toyota, OfficeMax, OfficeDepo, UPS, Kinkos and Sears/Kmart could also leverage their locations. It rub would be covering the dead spots along the interstates. They would still have to pay for tower space for that.

Re:Simple. Team up with Walmart. (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014027)

Apple... Wal-Mart... Apple... Wal-Mart...

You don't think those two brand images clash just a tiny little bit there? Apple even sold iPods at trendier Target long before they sold them at Wal-Mart - and I'm pretty sure it's still only the HP-branded ones being sold at Wal-Mart. I can't imagine the two ever co-branding something. And you know that Apple's brand image is everything to them.

An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (5, Interesting)

Dark Paladin (116525) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013778)

OK, so this is one of those "well, I just pulled this idea out of my ass so I could write my column thought".

But if nothing else, it's a very interesting one. Several commentators, including Bill Gates, have stated that they believe that the cell phone will overtake the iPod. You're more likely to carry around a cell, it has an established system of purchasing music (among other things), and so on.

Granted, I still take that with a heavy grain of salt, considering that my own PDA/phone (Treo 650) tends to go about a full day on the charge, and that's from a heavy user who uses it for email, AIM, speech, ebook reading, notes, calendar, and so on. I have to make sure I plug it in before I go to bed. My iPod lasts a bit longer (though if I used it as much as the Treo, it would probably die as quickly, if not faster). The iPod is just a better interface for music, and crappy for all else.

So the concept that Apple could go after the wireless market isn't so far fetched. Would anyone have thought of them a major player in the music industry? They have a brand name that's good (if not growing), and it would be a good way to suppliment the PC business. And it would remove some problems. Right now, according to the rumors, most wireless carriers don't want to carry the iTunes Mobile Phone because it would cut into their business.

So, fine: Apple makes their own service and gives the finger to the phone companies. How many iPod users (and Mac heads) would switch?

For it to work, they would need:

Capital - check, they still have a few billion left in the bank.
Manufacturing - check, not a major problem
Engineers - check, though they'd probably need to hire some
Wireless access points - Hm.... That may be a reach, but as the article points out (yes, I did RTFA) if Disney can do it, so can Apple. Whether that means they go out and buy someone, or just buy up/rent the wireless access points, they certainly have the means and the business acumen. Jobs has demonstrated the ability to negotiate in the past, if done right (say like the current Sprint model I'm using, where $40 gives 500 minutes, and an extra $15 gets me unlimited Internet access), they could make it work. Make the phones a combo phone/802.11 device for Skype/Gizmo like communications, and those Airports become all the more useful to their business model. Or start installing WiMax stations around the country for the same effect.

So, points to the author for coming up with a possibly viable idea. Will Apple do it? Probably not now - they have enough risk on their hands with the shift to the Intel processors and dealing with a potential loss of sales over the next 18-24 months. But if the wireless companies continue to play hardball with Jobs's (note to the picky: his name is Steve Jobs, the plural then becomes Jobs's, thank you) music domination plans, he might just do an end around.

We'll see. Most of this I'm pulling out of my ass, so of course I could be wrong.

Re:An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013865)

I think that that should be the possessive 's, not plural. We're not talking about more than one Steve Jobs, although I'm sure the black turtleneck manufacturers wish we were.

Re:An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (1)

PintoPiman (648009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013873)

(note to the picky: his name is Steve Jobs, the plural then becomes Jobs's, thank you)

If I were really picky, I would note that "Jobs's" is a possessive, not a plural.

Luckily, I'm not too picky.

Re:An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013927)

Come to think of it, the iPod's Clickwheel would probably do okay for a cell phone. Just get it to emulate an old rotary phone or something.

Re:An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13013968)

Uninformed you are.

An MVNO means that Apple acts like a branded mobile network operator.

This has NOTHING at all to do with buying wireless access points or 802.11.

They put a brand on top of another mobile operator (likely Sprint) and sell their devices and become a "cellular" company.

The thing that IS strange about all of this is that as far as I know Sprint is the only company in the US that does this sort of thing, but they are not based on GSM which is the world standard so Apple would be looking at a North American market only for its first devices (if this were true).

Re:An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (1)

aclarke (307017) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014050)

Virgin Mobile runs over T-Mobile's network in the USA, which is GSM.

Re:An interestesting pulled from the ass idea (2)

wxt (696228) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014063)

It's not a pulled from the ass idea, it's a "pulled from AN ass" idea. Looking at the Forbes article, the one who is suggesting it is a good idea for Apple to do this is none other than... Rob Enderle!

First to predict... (5, Funny)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013780)

that a half-baked story predicting that Google will enter the wireless provider market in order to support the foray into their online music business. GMusic store will allow you search 7 billion recordings using lyrics, instruments used, and sound patterns.

Also, in 3 to 6 months Microsoft will apologize to their employees, customers, and vendors for falling so far behind as an MVNP and music distributor. But Balmer will commit to catching Apple, Google, and AllOfMp3.com within the next 3 to 4 quarters. It's Microsoft's top priority next to releasing Longhorn, WinFS, security, DRM, the next version of SQL Server, Exchange 2007, .NET, .ORG, ethic, combinatorial global business synergies and leverage points and Windows on the Power PC.

Lastly, Apple frustrated with the iPOD to car stereo interfaces and refusal by many automobile manufacture to integrate the iPOD directly into their automobiles will purchase an Korean automobile company and begin manufacturing iCars. These cars will include new design innovations including ergonomic steering wheels and see through dash panels. Initially the automobiles will run on Honda gasoline engines, but Jobs will announce in the first 4 years of production that the iCar (and soon to be released iSUV) will switch to Toyota engines that can run on electricity, gasoline, jet-fuel, whiskey, and the sweat of some breeds of Tibetan mountain goats.

Step aside Dvorak I have spoken.

I can't wait for GMusic (1)

Marc2k (221814) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013966)

GMusic store will allow you search 7 billion recordings using lyrics, instruments used, and sound patterns.

"Man, I've had these three PCM frames stuck in my head all day: 21C9, 94C2, 1D32! I can't wait till I can get home to GMusic and figure out what song it is!"

Alright! (1)

LegendOfLink (574790) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013782)

Finally, now not only can I hook up wirelessly and access the net from anywhere, but I can hook up wirelessly AND be trendy and sexy at the same time!

Props to Apple for making me cool!

Slow (2, Insightful)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013785)

The main reason people dont like to use Cell networks for stuff like this is speed. There is so much web content out there that any wide area network using Cellular technology ends up being a huge pain. Now imagine if you started pumping iTunes media files and pictures over this slow network....yikes.

Or is there something I am unaware of here?

Re:Slow (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013859)

No you are dead on in that it would be painful to download songs over your cell phone.

The issue though is that the current carriers want to force this on you (thus making them more money as they charge for those). However, I believe the whole point of this is so you DON'T have to download songs over the cell phone. The "ipod" phones would let you synch songs with your PC. If the current carriers would allow this, then the "ipod" phone could just be carried by the current carriers. However, since they want to force you to tranfser over the cellular network (and charge you for it) this seems a reasonable idea.

Re:Slow (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014042)

Carriers will probably be loath to sell and support it, since they want to sell their own music downloads--not have customers upload tunes from home. "The carriers don't like it," says analyst Rob Enderle, head of The Enderle Group. "They want Apple to change the design so the phone has to sync through their networks, not with a PC."

Sorry must have skimmed over that part.

then I read this part

If Apple launched their own virtual network, they could even tie it in to their iTunes Music Store. This would allow them to obtain more revenue from the direct sale and download of digital music to phone handsets.

I would say as long as the intent is to simply synch your PDA/phone/ipod at home then you have a good idea, but if you expect someone to download through a cell network or synch you have issues, of course the capability might be worth it in a tough spot where you absolutley need a piece of digital media in a tough spot, but I dont think that would really happen enough to make it a marketable option.

No you are dead on in that it would be painful to download songs over your cell phone.

oh yes it would if you were doing it over the network, especially if they intend to enable any type of resonable encryption. But you are right if you synch from the desktop it wouldbe no problem. But I would be sorely disappointed and I think it would be a terrible mistake not to have the option to synch locally.

Re:Slow (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013964)

I sometimes use GPRS for data access. It's about the same speed as a modem. Fine for email and IM, just about okay for web browsing, ludicrous for any serious traffic.

GPRS, however, is old technology. In the UK at least, GPRS coverage is everywhere - I can even use it when visiting my parents who live in the middle of nowhere and on the train getting to them. 3G coverage is not as good, but is getting there. 3G services are significantly faster than GPRS for data - up to 384kb/s downstream, 64kb/s upstream. This speed is only slightly slower than my cable modem was a year ago.

Re:Slow (1)

Chubby_C (874060) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014064)

Its the age old question of which will/should come first:
the high-speed wireless networks; or
the content which would be delivered

Re:Slow (1)

COMON$ (806135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014171)

If you follow the 80/20 rule we wouldnt have this question. you maintain a device until you are using more than 20% of its capacity 80% of the time or your are using more than 80% of its capacity 20% of the time. Then you work on a way to change the percentages. Dont wait until you have depleted every resource to recognize a problem.

I remember an experiment regarding ameboas in a jar dividing every minute, how long until there is a population density issue? Cant remember the name, the problem is relevant and the same anyway

The BIG advantage... (2, Insightful)

Johnny Mozzarella (655181) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013788)

Apple can decide what goes on the phone and control the user experience. They don't have to put on every bell and whistle that Cingular or Verizon wants. Nor do they have to cripple features like bluetooth or limit syncing to over the network.

I would love to see tight integration with .Mac, iCal & Address Book. Some widgets would be nice too!

How about... (4, Interesting)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013794)

They create a mobile iTunes software that can work with the phones for just about any manufacturer and try to get some contracts with Verizon, Cellular One, and the other big companies.

Starting their own company gives them more control, but they also have all these other big companies that are going to try to run them out of business. However, if Apple sticks to its $.99 per song and allows people to use a full song for a ringtone rather than selling crappy midi files for $2.50 that play 10 bars of some obscure part of the song, they might put a dent in the other company.

I understand that Apple is trying to expand and stay one step ahead of the competition (especially with Microsoft wanting to get in on the market), but it seems like Apple is starting to wander out of its realm a little bit, which makes me think of another company that tries to do everything and usually ends up with a subpar product that is beaten by a company that focuses on that area.

Then again, if the other big phone companies aren't willing to play ball (which they probably aren't. Would you want to stop charging ridiculous amounts for a ringtone?) what choice does Apple have other than this one?

Hopefully they'll make a product that's fair to the consumer. Basically, I'd want good coverage, the ability to upload songs I've already purchased, and the same $.99 to purchase a song on my phone. Capacity for 100+ songs would be nice as well. Price doesn't matter since you can give it away for a lot less than it costs when you make someone sign a service plan for a few years.

If it met those conditions, I might consider getting one.

Re:How about... (1)

dstewart (853530) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014017)

However, if Apple sticks to its $.99 per song and allows people to use a full song for a ringtone...

I, for one, would love to hear "I Wanna Sex You Up" in it's entirety while in a meeting, waiting for my coworker to return from the restroom.

Face it... (3, Insightful)

timtwobuck (833954) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013799)

Wireless is a thing of the future, everything, eventually, will be wireless (unless an evironment or process forbids it).

Also, combining devices is also a thing of the future..it doesn't make sense to have 3 different devices with three different chargers that can't communicate, or communicate with some beat-arse protocol

It was destined that the iPod, since it is the defacto portable music player would become wireless, integrated with a cellphone, and eventually into a PDA/ICBM launcher.

The integration could go the other way, with the cellphone becoming the Mp3 player, but since the iPod is proven, and has a large fan-base (who in all likely-hood own cellphones), going in this direction will snare many more people.

Don't they already exist? (2, Interesting)

BandwidthHog (257320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013800)

This would allow Apple to circumvent the cellular carriers who have so far balked at carrying the iTunes-enabled mobile phone

Odd statement, considering that phones which interoperate with iTunes have already been spotted in the wild. [appleinsider.com]

availability (1)

milktoastman (572643) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013810)

Will this start a sequence of "availability wars" like we saw in the early 80's wafer biz? I'm afraid my interest will drift off pretty fast if this does get dirty.

Cell phones get beat up (1)

Hachey (809077) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013815)

I don't know about the author, but I beat the living crap out of my cell phone. iPods are different - you put them in your pocket and they stay in your pocket. Cellphones get thrown around, drop when you're fumbling to answer, and are handled far more often than iPods. If anything, a cell phone/iPod would be used more and have the potential to get more beat up.




--
Check out the Uncyclopedia.org [uncyclopedia.org] :
The only wiki source for politically incorrect non-information about things like Kitten Huffing [uncyclopedia.org] and Pong! the Movie [uncyclopedia.org] !

Re:Cell phones get beat up (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014097)

Yeah, but if you combine the (slick, cool, popular, etc) iPod with the cel phone, the cel phone automatically becomes much cooler, less dorky, and more popular. And thus much less likely to get beat up.

Earbuds + a hands-free mic (3, Interesting)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013832)

Merging a cellphone with an iPod make sense. A hands-free mic on the earbud wire would be all that an ipod needs. The thing could even auto-switch between cell and playback modes -- automatically pausing the song (and announcing the caller-id) when a call comes in and returning to the tunes when the call is over. A virtual keypad overlay on the jog wheel could provide a numeric keypad for dialing but most people would probably sync the iPod with iCal or some PC-based PIM and use the wheel to select the number.

One device on the belt and one device for the ears.

Re:Earbuds + a hands-free mic (1)

zvoid (706873) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013986)

I've thought this myself. The real killer feature would be integration between an iPod and a cellphone- I don't necessarily agree that they should be one and the same though, having owned a Treo 200 that, while cool while it lasted, when dead left me without a phone or a pda...

But, an iPod with bluetooth, that would automatically pause and indicate that the cell in other pocket has an incoming call, possibly announcing the caller from the Contacts on the iPod? Now that makes a whole lot of sense to me.

good! (2, Insightful)

jdunlevy (187745) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013851)

even just the rumor of this might be enough to spur the current American cell providers to offer internet service somebody might actually find useful...

Stop the madness (1)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013861)

I'm so frustrated with the lack of vision in the world.

The cell phone companies should be selling phones that come with good quality headsets and double as MP3 players. Make a higher-end model that is a real PDA. Maybe make a low-end model with ( *gasp* ) no screen at all. Someone would buy them if they were cheap enough.

Why aren't they? Myopia and strategizing, I guess. The hardware companies have given over their sales front end to the carriers, who are busy coming up with calling plans with "free" this or that (for only $49.95/mo) to get you locked in for a year. And consumers are programmed to like it that way.

Or maybe only geeks want to listen to the music of their choice and not carry around a Batman's utility belt full of gadgets?

Re:Stop the madness (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014226)

Hmm. In the UK you can get a per-pay sim card for £20 (with £20 of credit on it) and pop it in any 'phone you want. If you'd rather have a contract, you usually get a 'phone included, but if you want to swap it then you just pop out the sim and pop it in a new 'phone. Actually, my contract came with discount vouchers off the next three 'phones I buy (from the reseller, not the network). My first mobile was on a pre-pay plan, and I replaced the handset a couple of years later with one off eBay.

Ringtones (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013872)

I wonder what Cingular and Verizon will do with their $2 ring tones now?
If Apple makes their DRM lax enough so that songs on a person's Ipod can be both on their computer and cell phone, then we could have our own, free ringtones (if we already own the song). A utility that lets you select where the song should start and end for the ringtone would be nice.

Cingular already allows it. (1)

rdunnell (313839) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014025)

I have a Razr V3 from Cingular. It's unlocked to work with any carrier, but otherwise it's unmodified. All the cingular menus, restrictions, etc (there aren't too many restrictions) are still in place.

If you have the Phone Tools software from Motorola and a USB cable or bluetooth adapter on your PC, you can convert mp3 files into a format the phone can use and use them for ringtones.

Actually, I'm not sure you even need the Phone Tools software, it just has some stuff that automates the editing and recompresses them into lower quality files to take less space. I think you could probably go in via Bluetooth file transfer and just dump a mp3 into the phone if there was enough space.

This probably wouldn't work with Verizon since they (apparently) restrict file transfer.

More Stuff At The Apple Store (3, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 8 years ago | (#13013905)

Very interesting. I suppose if this takes off, you could buy the iPod Cell phone and a wireless plan at the Apple Store with prepaid minutes like you can at Virgin now. Given that cell phones have become something of a fashion accessory, Apple could have a great deal of success in that market even if their wireless plan ended up being pricier than the competition. Imagine all of those current iPod owners who would happily dump that current cell phone in favor of Apple's new hybrid. Mo money, mo money mo money! As Bill Gates can attest to, one of the secrets of long term success is to get your customers to keep buying the same products from you periodically!

Not just Apple. (1)

yardbird (165009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014007)

"Wal-Mart...could very well launch an MNVO," says Current Analysis analyst Weston Henderek. "A Wal-Mart offering would most likely be targeted at value-oriented and credit-challenged prepaid customers looking for the best price."

Cringely called it [pbs.org] , sort of.

Still waiting for my McDonalds phone.

T-Mobile, next acquisition? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014018)

Being that Deutsche Telekom has been rumoured to be shopping around T-Mobile, this could be the property Apple should be looking in.

T-Mobile is profitable and fast growing, however, the carrier is said to require a $10 billion investment in order to extend their coverage one standard deviation, to stay competitive with Sprint and Cingular.

T-Mobile and Cingular both use GSM with its IP like structure carries data with the minimum of encasuplation and overhead, and while Cingular has leaped ahead with its EDGE 3G rollout, T-Mobile is stuck at any average of 56k on its GPRS network.

T-Mobile doesn't have the subscriber base that Cingular has, but it does have enough network capacity for its community - unlike Cingular that is oversubscribed, and faces the challenges of integrating disparate network types - Analog, TDMA and GSM, into a single GSM-Edge network.

Anyway, if Apple can bring their brand perception to T-Mobile, and roll out custom handsets that take advantage of T-Mobile ubiquitious internet service, this may be the birth of a subscriber based iTunes on demand, allowing customers to listen to streaming, 40k AAC stream, today, over existing tech.

T-Mobile has the network, sufficient speed and is for sale - Apple has the product and the technology to make 56k worthwhile as a communications medium.

Hardware Replacement Strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13014035)

Apple is not going to be able to survive for very long with just the iPod/iTMS stuff as they are squeezed out of the hardware/OS biz over the next few years. (Sorry all the KoolAid drinking Mac fanatics who think Apple being forced to turn to x86 is going to lead to 'cheap fast Macs' and 'marketshare growth')

What is going on at Apple is very similar to what is going on at MS right now with their OS/offic suite software. It is still bring in big bucks but down the road they see it isn't going to last and they need to find something, anything, to replace the future loss of revenues.

MS so far has failed miserably in all their attempts, we'll see how well Apple does. The iPod sales seem to have peaked and are slowing down. Apple is in deep shit if that trend continues.

Yet another over priced toy.. (0, Flamebait)

stevo79 (898327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014046)

"Apple is already developing a hybrid iPod/cell phone with handset maker Motorola." This is not going to be something that will catch on quickly, or even at all. How many people are going to rush out there to get one of these? Not many. Most people already have cell phones and will have to wait till their service contract is up to get a new phone, unless there is a promotion to get people to start using them. And how much is this going to cost? Right now iPods sell for $200+ and a new cell phone with the features that will allow you to support the software needed are $250 retail. So that makes $450 for something that I will probably use for only a year, or so that is usually the life of my cell phone. All in all, this will take a LONG time for Apple to see any profit from this venture.

Hmmmm... (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014086)

An uncrippled bluetooth cellphone that lets me iSync, transfer files and is also a gateway for my laptop... Plus a cellphone carrier who I've known to have excellent customer service and most likely won't put me through the same crap everybody else has... Count me in! And that's without and iTunes phone.

Hold Music (3, Funny)

ehaggis (879721) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014115)

But can it allow me to put people on hold and force them to enjoy my musical selections?

Will they have a Tom Jones edition?

These are the burning questions.

Monotone (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13014143)

These business gyrations are all based on the monopoly model. Mobile telcos have monopolies on access to their customers: witness their blocking the iPodPhone because they demand a "royalty" for every download, even when their network isn't in the loop (synced to a computer which downloaded over the wired Internet). Record labels are in the critical path, because their cartel insists on collecting a toll on music transactions, even when they're out of the loop (fair use of copyright in listening to your own home music collection across the mobile Internet). Even Apple is consistent with this model: they're in the lead with negotiations with those other "legs" of the path from the musician to your ears, while they run their little empire as the sole supplier of their OS and HW, while enforcing "look and feel" to the narrowest spec in the industry.

We are teetering on the watershed, between mobile multimedia network terminals ("phones") which do whatever we want, constrained only by our imagination and sustainable monetization, and a vertical stack of monopolies controlling the pipeline to your senses. It looks like the odds, the big money, all favor the monopoly. Which sounds terrible.
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