Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Why Apple should go into the mobile network business

Kirk McElhearn | Jan. 27, 2015
If Apple really wants to control the whole experience of using an iPhone, it's time to consider becoming an MVNO.

cell tower

One of the things that has certainly helped Apple be successful is making both the hardware and the software that runs its devices. Because of this, issues of compatibility have always been less problematic on Macs than they have on PCs.

But when 2007 rolled around, and Apple introduced the iPhone, Apple no longer controlled the users' end-to-and experience. Using this device depended on not just hardware and software, but also a mobile phone network. Sure, using a Mac on the Internet has also depended on ISPs (Internet service providers), but Internet access contracts are simpler, and easier to understand, and generally don't have coverage issues or data caps.

With the iPhone, and later with the cellular iPad, users have to worry about whether or not they choose the correct contract, how many minutes or how much data they have per month, and whether they live and work in an area covered by their provider.

You can buy an iPhone and a contract with a specific mobile provider at the same time. But imagine a different situation, where Apple sells you a new iPhone or iPad and also sells you, if you choose, a contract to connect that device to any network, perhaps, even, and any country. And the provider you sign up with is Apple. For a monthly fee, Apple could provide you with a full range of services: calls, texts, data, cloud storage, music streaming, access to videos, and much more, and give you unlimited data for any of its own services. You would no longer have to worry about data caps for, say, streaming music or movies, And Apple could probably do this much more cheaply than current mobile phone operators.

One plan, every carrier
To do this, Apple would become an MVNO, or a mobile virtual network operator. There are dozens of these in the United States, and most countries also have similar operators. An MVNO simply buys minutes and data from a larger mobile phone operator, and then sells the service under their own brand.

But Apple could do this differently. Given the size of the company, and the number of users who would potentially purchase such a plan, Apple could buy minutes and data from all of the major mobile phone providers, ensuring that you get coverage everywhere.

There is one hitch to this in the United States: cell phones use two standards, CDMA and GSM. Most of the rest of the world uses GSM only, but in the United States, Apple has to sell two different phone models because of these competing standards. This would mean that with the current situation, coverage might still be fragmented, but outside the United States, where everyone uses GSM, coverage would be much better. For example, where I live, in a small village in the UK, only one of the 4 large mobile phone providers offers good coverage. However, the same iPhones have been able to use both CDMA and GSM, and Apple certainly make an iPhone that handles both types of network.


1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.