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Portables (Apple) Businesses Networking (Apple) Wireless (Apple) Apple Hardware

Apple to Become Wireless Provider? 286

Posted by Zonk
from the everybody-else-is-doing-it dept.
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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Apple to Become Wireless Provider?

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  • Yeah right (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:25AM (#13013721)
    This is about as likely as Apple switching to Intel x86 chips... oh.. wait.
    • Re:Yeah right (Score:4, Insightful)

      by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@g m a i l.com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:03AM (#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.

      • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:44AM (#13014433)
        "I'm only stating for the record that the vast majority of computer users prefer two button mice..."

        I think a more accurate statement is that they are *used to* two button mice. I use a PC at work (say 8 hours/day) and a Mac at home (say 1 hour a day) on a daily basis. The difference in interfaces between Windows and OS X is such that I simply never miss having a second mouse button in OS X. I'm not saying that one is better than another (security issues aside), it's just that they are different.
        • Re:Yeah right (Score:4, Informative)

          by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@g m a i l.com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:09PM (#13014679)
          "I think a more accurate statement is that they are *used to* two button mice. I use a PC at work (say 8 hours/day) and a Mac at home (say 1 hour a day) on a daily basis."

          I use PCs mostly, and Macs. The single button on the mice infuriates me to no end. I like to use scroll wheels when I'm reading web pages, and I like to use the right mouse button to right click to open up other browser windows as tabs in either FireFox or Safari. And during that time, I don't want my hand to be on the keyboard so that I can replicate what I can do with one hand on a two button + scroll wheel mouse.

          It also bugs me that the right button option apparently doesn't work in Yahoo Messenger on OS X. I don't like having to do the whole "control + c" to copy text from a Messenger chat session window to paste elsewhere.

          But yes, there are some that do prefer the single button.

  • by illtron (722358) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:26AM (#13013728) Homepage Journal
    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!
  • It's about time. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Iriel (810009) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:29AM (#13013741) Homepage
    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 :)
    • 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 ta
      • Why don't they just setup some routing code on all those ipods out there in a software upgrade and let them form an ad-hoc network that routes from the other ipods they can see wirelessly to ipods that the other ones can't see? Then setup a central access point in each urban environment to hook each network into the Internet?

        I know, I'm dreaming out loud again, so there's no need to reply with the obvious pitfalls...
      • This actually makes sense. While Sprint does sell their own branded SprintPCS service, they are increasingly selling the network itself. Qwest Wireless and the Virgin prepaid services are good examples: they buy access to Sprint Spectrum's wireless network at wholesale rates and then sell their own branded service. AT&T was *going* to launch a new cellular service in this manner until Cingular acquired them outright.

        As for data, which would be necessary for an "iPhone," SprintPCS already offers EV-DO w
  • by sczimme (603413) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:29AM (#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.
    • 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 t
    • Apparently we have exhausted all the good TLAs and must venture further into FLAs.

      I thought they were called ETLAs...
    • by /ASCII (86998) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:52AM (#13013932) Homepage
      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? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dhanks (588795) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:29AM (#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?
    • by hardaker (32597) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:34AM (#13013790) Homepage
      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.

    • by lhbtubajon (469284)
      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 mak
    • 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.
    • "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 grante
  • In other words (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:31AM (#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!
    • "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 of
  • by drhamad (868567) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:31AM (#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.
    • ...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...

    • "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 a
    • I would say that one of the main problems has been the form factor. When one of these devices is big enough to function as a PDA, it's too bulky to be a cell phone. When it's small enough to be a cell phone, the screen and the input keys are too small. At least for traditional inputs. Maybe Apple can figure out a new type of input that will work.
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:33AM (#13013770) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by garcia (6573) * on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:34AM (#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.
    • 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.

      • 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.
    • 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.

    • "Install a WiFi Max mobile station at each WalMart and you have close to an instant cell network...."

      Good idea. Sounds like something Cringely [pbs.org] would dream up.
    • There is not a single Walmart in the city of Chicago. We prefer it that way.

      jfs
    • The problem with having Wal*Mart be an ISP is that you'd have to send every other packet back because it'd have parts missing, and they'd just go ahead and route the returned packet to someone else.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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!
    • You forgot a major advantage Apple has over all the other providers / cell carriers - people are willing to pay hundreds of dollars for their Apple devices. In the US at least, most devices are subsidized to cheap by the carriers in exchange for year or more contracts.

      Once someone then owns that device, it will only 'fully' work on its original network - sure you can access any random WAP and get most features, but there will surely be something that's really handy and only comes with being on their n
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:33AM (#13013780) Journal
    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.
  • 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 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by COMON$ (806135)
    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?

    • 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 ups

    • Re:Slow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thu25245 (801369)
      1. Download a song using iTunes on your PC, over your broadband connection
      2. Sync it with your iPod over a firewire/USB connection
      3. Sync it with your cell phone over a USB/Bluetooth connection.

      Who said anything about using a cell network for this? That's why the mobile network operators are so pissed.
  • by Johnny Mozzarella (655181) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:34AM (#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... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alvinrod (889928) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:35AM (#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... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by The Lynxpro (657990)
      "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."

      From what I've read, iTunes Mobile is Java based. Apple could really piss off the mobile phone companies by offering it as a free download through the iTunes Music Store and then have links to the Apple store to sell the various cables for the different mobile phones so people could hook up their non-Bluetooth phones to t
  • Face it... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by timtwobuck (833954) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:35AM (#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.
  • 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]
    • "Odd statement, considering that phones which interoperate with iTunes have already been spotted in the wild."

      That article (and all the other places that linked to it) sucks. It doesn't mention which existing Motorola phones are recognized by iTunes. And I'm not going to go buy a RAZR just to test it. I would buy a RAZR if I knew ahead of time if iTunes recognized it.

  • by G4from128k (686170) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:39AM (#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.
  • good! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jdunlevy (187745) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:42AM (#13013851) Homepage
    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...
    • "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..."

      Probably not a good thing to bet on. The last time we had the chance of having a real mobile phone company enter the American market and offer innovation was when Vodaphone was interested in buying up AT&T Wireless (and thus dumping their - Vodaphone - interest in Verizon Wireless). Unfortunately, SBC used its huge pile of monopoly gained fortune an
      • Sorry....I meant to spell it as *Vodafone.*

        Gotta remember to incorrectly spell words to give respect to corporate brand names and identities.

      • SBC sucks dead donkey d*cks. I was contracting at Ameritech when SBC took over. I was no fan of Ameritech management, but compared to SBC, they were sympathetic geniuses. As I told people, it's a bunch of Texans who depend on the common sense of Los Angeles and the technological expertise of Little Rock to see them through. (I am nothing if not an equal-opportunity offender.)

        I still remember that, upon SBC's takeover, there was soon a three-month wait for new phone service. SBC kept getting fined by the

  • 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"
    • 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 eBa
    • 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?

      You've got that all wrong. Only geeks want to carry around a Batman's utility belt full of gadgets.

      If you don't lust after Batman's utility belt, you're not the geek you think you are. At minimum, your belt should have cell phone and an iPod. Maybe a smallish GPS device? And of course, a grappling hook...

      Sure, my wife would make fun of me. But if I came across a utility belt half

  • by SonicBV (644848) * <sonicdude@[ ].com ['mac' in gap]> on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:45AM (#13013880) Homepage
    The iTunes Ringtone Store? Ack!
  • by VolciMaster (821873) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:46AM (#13013887) Homepage
    one button cell phone work? Or do we get one of those spiffy thumbwheel doohickeys?
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday July 08, 2005 @10:47AM (#13013905) Homepage Journal
    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!

  • "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.

    • "A Wal-Mart offering would most likely be targeted at value-oriented and credit-challenged prepaid customers looking for the best price."

      What, Wal-Mart wants to steal away Sprint's customer base?

      Geez. That's one thing I don't miss about Sprint. Going into the Sprint store and witnessing the allegedly drug dealing thugs trying to pay their mobile phone bills with cash.

      Granted, I don't know which is worse for society these days...thugs or monopolies like SBC. I think I had a better signal with Sprint in
    • "A Wal-Mart offering would most likely be targeted at value-oriented and credit-challenged prepaid customers looking for the best price."

      Wait a minute, what the heck does Wal-Mart have to do with value? They have everything to do with low prices, not value.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:00AM (#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.

    • by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxpro@g m a i l.com> on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:02PM (#13014612)
      "Being that Deutsche Telekom has been rumoured to be shopping around T-Mobile, this could be the property Apple should be looking in."

      There's yet another reason for Apple to be looking at T-Mobile USA, even if it is only for a 50% acquisition/partnership. The reason being the T-Mobile "Hot Spot" network. And who is the big corporation with thousands of locations partnered up with T-Mobile on this and proudly displaying their logo on their doors? Yep, you guess it, Starbucks.

      Bet you thought I was going to say "Frank Stallone" in some weird homage to Norm Macdonald, weren't ya?

      The other reason to do so is to have gorgeous Catherine Zeta Jones as a spokeswoman for Apple. Yep, that's something to bite into... :)

  • Hold Music (Score:3, Funny)

    by ehaggis (879721) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:09AM (#13014115) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:12AM (#13014143) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • Mod parent UP!

      Monopolies overprice even the simplest add-on services with a cell phone.

      I work for a company who can make a cell phone carry cash-value then the user dials-out to perform the value transfer to the merchant. (not a credit/debit card!) Yet there's no interest. None.

      What's worse is the PHB carrier people think they should get the solution from Visa/MC's outrageously expensive infrastructure and antiquated payment technology.
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday July 08, 2005 @11:52AM (#13014515) Journal
    When I read the Slashdot article title, I got the impression Apple was considering building its own complete cellular network. But the article doesn't seem to be saying that at all.

    Rather, they're talking about what amounts to "VARs (value added resellers)" in the world of computers.

    Companies like ESPN, Disney or Apple just pay one of the existing cellular companies (like Sprint) for rights to use their infrastructure - and they resell customized phones that do some things the carrier doesn't wish to offer with the phones packaged on their regular plans.

    Big deal!?! I grant that this might, indeed, be a way for Apple to get their way rolling out phones that play iTunes purchased music and still sync with PCs - but what else does it really offer anyone?

    The cellular carriers are still going to call all the shots as far as prices to use their networks - so they're not likely to give Apple some sort of huge discount. Therefore, I'd say you can expect monthy pricing to be the same or higher than you pay now. And if you have issues such as poor reception, slow data xfer rates, or customer service hassles with your carrier, that won't change either.
  • Being that wireless companies give away expensive phones to entice subscribers, imagine if Apple were to make a phone/ipod in the 5-10 gig storage range, and give it away free to new subscribers. I suspect people would flock to the device and service (Apple folks for sure at the least,) and thus not only gaining wireless customers, but iTunes customers as well, who can actually store a significant amount of songs. I don't see how that wouldn't be ridiculously profitable.
  • by the0ther (720331) on Friday July 08, 2005 @12:04PM (#13014634)
    I love this for two reasons. iPods are incredibly useful and well designed. Who'd have thought you need your entire 200 CD collection with you at all times? But now that I do, I can't live without it. So I'm not so impressed by this device as I am about the upcoming Nokia N91 which will have a 4GB hard drive onboard. Sure, they're making higher capacity SD & MMC cards, but 512 MB just isn't quite enough space for a really useful MP3 player. So I like the route Nokia is taking.

    The other thing I love about this is that a big company, Apple, is trying to do an end-around of the telcos and the cable internet providers. And sure, I know they're not taking them head-on, and this is just a rumor at this point, but we gotta turn up the competition if we're ever going to see a really dynamic internet. The promise of a digital commons just isn't playing out like we'd want, and I think the "owners" of the networks are largely to blame. So kudos to Apple for seeing this and taking some steps toward busting up that logjam.

  • What a cowinkydink (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snorklewacker (836663) on Friday July 08, 2005 @01:29PM (#13015386)
    ... I occasionally give a training session at work about the architecture and organization of the internet, including covering things like the domain registration hierarchy (ICANN/RIR/LIR/registrar/reseller/customer), ASN's and of course, IP allocation. I usually use some phrase like "ARIN handed out IP space like crazy at the start, so companies like Ford and Apple got a whole class A each. Apple could become an ISP if it wanted to."

    Heh. Maybe Ford is next?
  • by krunk4ever (856261) on Friday July 08, 2005 @05:21PM (#13017313) Homepage
    that would be so sweet! everyone's been wanting to have wireless headphones with their ipod. although logitech has come out with an excellent product:

    http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/products/details /US/EN,CRID=2439,CONTENTID=10540 [logitech.com]
    (i like how it even has a remote control on the headphones)

    the $150 price tag is quite hefty.

    with bluetooth, we're now open to any bluetooth headphones accessible!

Stinginess with privileges is kindness in disguise. -- Guide to VAX/VMS Security, Sep. 1984

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