Apple’s near monopoly on mobile devices may soon be extended to its own mobile network — and this potential plan has been in the works before the iPhone itself was released. We can’t say we didn’t see it coming.
Writing on the seemingly inevitable next steps for the tech company, Gigaom isn’t hesitant to declare what Apple’s next steps will be. “Apple will provide wireless service directly to its iPad and iPhone customers,” they write, meaning it will be its own — massive, we presume — mobile carrier. The relationships between mobile networks and Apple have been unusual since the latter announced the iPhone’s release in late 2006. Two years later, though, it came out that Apple had been considering forming a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) system, going so far as to file a patent for “Dynamic Carrier Selection” before decisions about network support for the iPhone were finalized.
AppleInsider reported on the patent just before the iPhone was released from AT&T’s selfish lockdown. The system would be, unsurprisingly, pretty unfavorable for most major network carriers. Under Apple’s MVNO, an individual device would be able to receive data from multiple network operator servers. The user would then select (or have Apple select automatically) the best available service for a given rate, time, or location.
Better, Cheaper iPhone Service?
Such a pricing structure would put a bidding system in place — one that could drive down mobile carriers’ rates while giving users more choice and Apple more control. Now, nearly six years later, Apple has the infrastructure and the industry prominence to make such a plan very effective. As Gigaom notes, beyond Apple’s established following and brand, they’ve got over 300 retail stores worldwide, as well as a streamlined payment service through the iTunes store that handles huge billing volumes. With an MVNO system in place, users could purchase their iPhone apps and their iPhone service in the same location — probably more cheaply, too.
With Apple’s controversial efforts to propose a standardized nano-SIM card, many speculate that a follow-up on their patent might be in line. What do you think? Would you welcome a multi-network, Apple-controlled mobile carrier?