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Steve Jobs Wanted an iPhone-Only Wireless Network 263

Posted by samzenpus
from the welcome-to-the-iinternet dept.
jfruhlinger writes "One of the more profound ways that the iPhone changed the mobile industry was the fact that it upended the relationship between the handset maker and the wireless carrier: Apple sells many of its phones directly to customers, and in general has much more of an upper hand with carriers than most phone manufacturers. But venture capitalist John Stanton, who was friends with Steve Jobs in the years when the iPhone was in development, said the Apple CEO's initial vision was even more radical: he wanted Apple to build its own wireless network using unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, thus bypassing the carriers altogether."
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Steve Jobs Wanted an iPhone-Only Wireless Network

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:01PM (#38067182)
    iCanthearyounow
  • Neat (Score:5, Funny)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:01PM (#38067186) Homepage
    That would've freed up a lot of the load on AT&T. However, it would've made the iPhone a lot more expensive per unit... hmm. Where's the downside?
    • Re:Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:03PM (#38067218)

      The walled garden would have replaced the internet.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170)

        The walled garden would have replaced the internet.

        Not his walled garden, he'd have left the door for Microsoft to walk in and do it. As inept as Redmond has been with wireless and smart phones, this would have made them. And in turn they would have dominated the market because Apple didn't learn anything from past failures.

      • Re:Neat (Score:4, Funny)

        by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:37PM (#38067678)
        And I would have stayed on the other side of the wall and chucked the occasional beer can over into the garden.
    • At the very least it would have justified the initial absurd price per phone.
      • Re:Neat (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:07PM (#38067304) Homepage Journal

        At the very least it would have justified the initial absurd price per phone.

        Yeah, but Apple trying to be a player in a global Wi-Fi network wouldn't have happened. They succeeded because they let the phone companies bear the burden of satellites and tower contracts, fibre trunks, maintenance, etc.

        • by swalve (1980968)
          Indeed. It was genius, even if it wasn't intentional. When a phone drops calls or has data hiccups, who gets blamed? It's ALWAYS the cell carrier. Let someone else get all the blame. Funny thing though, my AT&T service was always fine until all the iPhone users appeared and clogged stuff up. Now the wireless network is getting clogged with people talking to Siri? Argh.
          • Re:Neat (Score:5, Insightful)

            by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:26PM (#38068172) Homepage Journal

            Well, it is your carrier that is overselling their bandwidth. It is really not Apple's fault.

            It would be Apple's fault if your phone couldn't use a signal that was there, or if ou had to hold it in a funny way to not touch the antena. That problem you describe, it's really an AT&T problem.

          • Re:Neat (Score:5, Interesting)

            by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:31PM (#38068202) Homepage Journal

            Indeed. It was genius, even if it wasn't intentional. When a phone drops calls or has data hiccups, who gets blamed? It's ALWAYS the cell carrier. Let someone else get all the blame. Funny thing though, my AT&T service was always fine until all the iPhone users appeared and clogged stuff up. Now the wireless network is getting clogged with people talking to Siri? Argh.

            This is all part of the evolution of communications.

            Remember why the dotcom bubble burst? Because, despite all the brilliant ideas everyone had, the infrastructure was two copper wires, all the neat tricks to get 5Mbps were still in development, and so many technologies ran into the bandwidth wall. Now we can do 6 (or more) Mbps over copper (particularly if we live close to the switch) but the flood of iPhone traffic revealed the flimsy network for cellular was never intended for high bandwidth. Well, the carriers learned (particularly AT&T after the mess in NYC) and technology has been rapidly improving (though taking more time to roll out in some areas than others.)

            Voice bandwidth needs were tiny, like 3KHz on old copper. Imagine compressing that in a digital stream. With people websurfing, streaming music and video and now mucking about with the "Cloud" for documents, spreadsheets, The Bob knows what else, that bandwith must become higher or customers go to another carrier who can hack it (a good thing to have multiple carriers in any area!)

          • Re:Neat (Score:5, Interesting)

            by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @01:51AM (#38070670)

            Indeed. It was genius, even if it wasn't intentional. When a phone drops calls or has data hiccups, who gets blamed? It's ALWAYS the cell carrier. Let someone else get all the blame. Funny thing though, my AT&T service was always fine until all the iPhone users appeared and clogged stuff up. Now the wireless network is getting clogged with people talking to Siri? Argh.

            Well, the dropped call/AT&T sucky thing really did have the iPhone to blame partially.

            You see, there's a control channel used to establish and tear down connections (voice/data), and also used for signalling and messaging (e.g., making/receiving a phone call, SMS).

            The iPhone was extremely aggressive with its data connections. The instant data transfer stopped and there was no more data forthcoming, the immediately tore down the data connection. When data needed to be transferred, it established it again. If you're browsing the web, it basically meant everytime you visit a page, the page load creates a new connection, then when the page has finished, the connection is torn down.

            What crippled AT&T was not running out of bandwidth for voice or data, but running out of bandwidth in the control channel. When the control channel was saturated, it means that requests get dropped. If you're being handed off to another cell, and your phone can't contact the tower in time to complete the handoff (because it can't get a word in edgewise on the control channel), boom, the call is dropped. And thus, AT&T service started degrading for everyone because basically all the iPhones overloaded the towers.

            Europe and Asia didn't see this because all the texting that went on meant they saw control channel saturation happen many years ago, so they started doing dynamic bandwidth allocation - if the control channel is getting saturated, it allocates another channel to free up bandwidth.

            The same thing happened to T-mobile when an IM app and Android apparently had timers that worked destructively - the IM app caused Android to release the data channel because it was idle "long enough", just after which it did a data transfer which required re-establishing the data link. So T-Mobile suffered from phones dropping and re-establishing the data connection again causing tower overload.

            Incidentally, the iPhone did this to save power - holding a data connection open takes battery, so if you can drop it immediately, you can put the baseband into low power and save a significant amount of power.

            AT&T was not prepared for the iPhone. Some people got bills that came in big boxes because every time the phone opened and closed the data connection, an entry was recorded and faithfully printed out, leading to phone bills that were thousands of pages long. Since it was unlimited, all it did was kill some extra trees.

    • Re:Neat (Score:4, Insightful)

      by icebike (68054) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:28PM (#38068180)

      The article is not that clear on which portion of networks services Jobs planned to put on his un-licensed wifi.
      Clearly Calls would have to bridge the gap between his network and the POTS system somewhere.

      Perhaps he was only planning for the data portion on his network. Even then, its clear he had no idea of the enormous size of the
      task at hand. Even using mesh network topology the cost of APs would have been enormous.

      Still you can't fault him for trying to end-run the bastards. We will eventually end up with a "dumb pipe" network from the carriers,
      where they stop selling us minutes or data, and just sell bandwidth.

      I suspect Google is much closer to being able to allow you to forego minutes altogether, by handling calls over data on their Google Voice service via what ever data connection you might have. I suspect the only thing holding them back is not wanting to piss off the carriers.

      • Even then, its clear he had no idea of the enormous size of the task at hand.

        Even now, its clear you have no idea of the enormous size of HIS ego. Just look at that market cap, just look at it! It was a mandate from the people to push HIS visions to new horizons....

        • by icebike (68054)

          Market cap is beauty contest, and nothing more.

          • Market cap is beauty contest, and nothing more.

            It turns into wealth & power when you diversify your holdings.

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            You missed off "now that Apple is at the top".

            In the years leading up to this state, market cap was one of the metrics used to bash Apple's "weak position" and one of the many reasons it was "dying".

            Now that it's where it is, suddenly it seems market cap is meaningless. Funny that.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:03PM (#38067234) Homepage Journal

    Apple to build its own wireless network using unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, thus bypassing the carriers altogether."

    Which would have worked, if you were only willing to go about with something like the iTouch. While popular, the evolution to hand-held computer, camera, game-device and phone became a bit mostly on the latter.

    I visualised such a network years before the iPhone and realise how much it wouldn't have happened. There was some network in the SF Bay Area meant to do something similar, but you had to be paying to be on it and these sorts of things didn't come cheap. Even taking advantage of economies of scale, you'd be running up against those who own the cell towers. My cousin is in that racket and don't underestimate the costs and other problems inherent there. Going with cellular was the only way it was going to work.

    • by TWX (665546)

      Even more importantly, at what point do disruptions to both other unlicensed users and to, more importantly, licensed users operating as primary users of spectrum that's also allowed for unlicensed use, cause the FCC to come down on such a scheme to destroy it? Granted, it would probably have to be pretty flagrant, but a hundred-thousand devices from one manufacturer in a metro area is probably enough to where they'd take notice, evaluate the usage on that spectrum, and possibly make a ruling...

      Wifi on 2.4

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        Even more importantly, at what point do disruptions to both other unlicensed users and to, more importantly, licensed users operating as primary users of spectrum that's also allowed for unlicensed use, cause the FCC to come down on such a scheme to destroy it? Granted, it would probably have to be pretty flagrant, but a hundred-thousand devices from one manufacturer in a metro area is probably enough to where they'd take notice, evaluate the usage on that spectrum, and possibly make a ruling...

        Wifi on 2.4 and 5.8GHz is already posing problems enough, and those are intentionally very limited in range and power level...

        The obsessive in Jobs would have meant all these towers, relays, backbone and employees would be Apple people because only in that way could he have had complete control over it. Yeah, FCC might have said, "You're behaving like a monopoly and your dues aren't paid!"

    • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:30PM (#38067574)

      It's basically building another wireless network from scratch, regardless of the spectrum space. Apple has the warchest, it could certainly do that today, but in 2005 or 2006 to get 20 or 30 billion dollars would have A: given up the plan and B: been completely unthinkable for Apple. On top of all that you have enormous chicken and egg problems while the whole thing is getting built.

      On one hand, who wouldn't want their own wireless network to stick to the big carriers (I'm in canada, our carriers are equally bad, if not worse than the US ones), but it's a very risky game to play.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        The current wireless networks also have been built up from scratch.

        And that was in a time that electronics were far less common, when the use was less defined, when most people didn't have a mobile phone nor felt the need for it, yet they did it and succeeded to build out to cover complete nations. Including vast, almost unpopulated areas. Nowadays there aren't many places in the world that do not have any mobile phone network available.

        If Apple or any other company were to do something like that today, t

    • by Holi (250190)

      I think your talking about Ricochet. I used it for awhile and the major problem was using it while moving, you would keep dropping the connection if you moved too fast. Cars were definitely out. I believe they fixed that issue before they went away.

  • Smart Guy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iluvcapra (782887) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:05PM (#38067268)

    Clearly a wise idea, but I wonder how he would have run a cell company different. How would rates be structured? Would the incumbents let iPhones roam on their networks or would they try to freeze-out the interloper? The mind boggles...

    One of the more profound ways that the iPhone changed the mobile industry was the fact that it upended the relationship between the handset maker and the wireless carrier

    It really only upended the relationship between Apple and its wireless carriers. Most phones are still marketed and sold the old-fashioned way, and Google doesn't have magic open-source-fairy dust that prevents carriers from selling crappy phones on very carrier-friendly terms.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      How would the rates be structured? $49.99 for 400 minutes, $89.99 for 650 minutes and $175 for unlimited. If it's anything like their hardware rate structure.
      • Of course, if its fees had been structured like its other services it might have been free or $25/year.
        • Or to be fair, maybe $4.99 for 90 minutes which you could keep around for 30 days, unless you started using them. Once you used the first minute, then you had 24 hours before the remaining 90 minutes expired.
        • Difference being, its other services didn't require BILLIONS in infrastructure to execute.

          I'm sure it would have been different, but it also would have been hobbled in a lot of places (the Florida Keys come to mind, tower space there is impossible to come by and the county won't let any new towers be built.)

        • What other services? Services like mobile me, which you used to be able to use to sync your contacts and stuff over the internet, which should've been a built-in utility (mac's already come with rsync....), and at best a dynamic ip lookup service akin to dyndns, but instead was structured as an online service where your data actually passed through apple servers so they could charge $99/ year?

          That kind of cheap service?

    • by mirix (1649853)

      Would the incumbents let iPhones roam on their networks or would they try to freeze-out the interloper?

      I doubt the phones would even have been capable of roaming on other networks, had they been designed for this chunk of spectrum. Certainly it would be possible to support both, but at more cost, more size, and more power consumption.

  • by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot&m0m0,org> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:08PM (#38067312)

    This would not have been feasible, which is why it didn't work. the idea of a carrier pushing through a wifi network with enough coverage space is laughable. The 3g/4g wireless spectrum operates entirely different than wifi because wifi is limited in many ways..

    The point is, we can all sit around and throw ideas and himhaw back and forth, but if things don't pass engineering/financial spec the don't get done. Applauding Jobs as a visionary for an idea that failed on technical and financial merit is kinda stupid.

    • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:14PM (#38067376) Homepage Journal

      This would not have been feasible, which is why it didn't work. the idea of a carrier pushing through a wifi network with enough coverage space is laughable. The 3g/4g wireless spectrum operates entirely different than wifi because wifi is limited in many ways..

      The point is, we can all sit around and throw ideas and himhaw back and forth, but if things don't pass engineering/financial spec the don't get done. Applauding Jobs as a visionary for an idea that failed on technical and financial merit is kinda stupid.

      The success was in the not doing it.

      • by PhrstBrn (751463) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:07PM (#38067978)

        This would not have been feasible, which is why it didn't work. the idea of a carrier pushing through a wifi network with enough coverage space is laughable. The 3g/4g wireless spectrum operates entirely different than wifi because wifi is limited in many ways..

        The point is, we can all sit around and throw ideas and himhaw back and forth, but if things don't pass engineering/financial spec the don't get done. Applauding Jobs as a visionary for an idea that failed on technical and financial merit is kinda stupid.

        The success was in the not doing it.

        Why don't you have your own little success by not posting?

    • With enough devices on the market, altogether with advances in Ad-hoc networks, this may be possible (I think there are still tweaks to the routing protocols, which I think are pure madness).

      However, I see two main groups against such thing:
      1. The carriers, that may lose a big chunk of customers that don't mind no having complete availability.
      2. But most importantly, the government, which, besides of opposing to this, may also be worried about not being able to track users so easily and tap on conversat
      • by grcumb (781340)

        With enough devices on the market, altogether with advances in Ad-hoc networks, this may be possible (I think there are still tweaks to the routing protocols, which I think are pure madness).

        I posted something about this just this morning, linking to an older article [imagicity.com] I wrote. In a nutshell, between advances in wireless networking protocols and approaches, improvements in mesh networking and new developments in end-to-end voice and data encryption, we can reasonably begin thinking about creating telco-less networks.

        However, I see two main groups against such thing:

        1. The carriers, that may lose a big chunk of customers that don't mind no having complete availability.

        2. But most importantly, the government, which, besides of opposing to this, may also be worried about not being able to track users so easily and tap on conversations, as they do now.

        So more than "technically", I think is politically unfeasible.

        I reposted the article because of the SOPA fiasco [thestar.com] currently playing itself out in the US Congress. Network ownership (or, more precisely, the affiliation between network owners and so

        • by swalve (1980968)
          How is it sound, exactly? If I need to make a call, I need to make sure someone else is in the area with their cell phone turned on and willing to let me drain their battery? How do you do long distance?
          • by grcumb (781340)

            How is it sound, exactly?

            'Sound' in the sense that we've solved some of the key problems that kept this idea in the realm of the impossible. Now, it's merely improbably difficult. 8^)

            If I need to make a call, I need to make sure someone else is in the area with their cell phone turned on and willing to let me drain their battery?

            Agreed. Which makes it problematical for a lot of the continental US. But it's not so impractical in Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, India, Egypt - countless other locales. Which, not coincidentally, represent the largest area of growth in wireless networks right now.

            The battery issue is another kettle of fish. I can only hand-wave at the moment and a

            • by swalve (1980968)
              Well said. I think the mesh networks would work fine for communications in small dribs and drabs, but I just don't see how that many hops will be feasible for (acceptable) voice communications. Emergency, nextel and TXT style communication? Heck yeah.
              • by grcumb (781340)

                Well said. I think the mesh networks would work fine for communications in small dribs and drabs, but I just don't see how that many hops will be feasible for (acceptable) voice communications. Emergency, nextel and TXT style communication? Heck yeah.

                Again, I won't take issue with your argument, but I guess I just take a glass-half-full kind of approach to engineering. While you're right that latency would build up pretty quickly, I would counter with the argument that:

                • 1) all else being equal, latency's not intolerable, even up to a second in duration. I know - I live in a country that has only satellite access to the outside world.
                • 2) People -especially in the developing world- will put up with a lot in order to save a few cents. If the alternative to
    • You're getting caught up in the technical details. What he was thinking about was more high level ie how to build a phone carrier that was unencumbered by the high capital costs of building out infrastructure.

      I suppose an MVNO wasn't in the cards, although there were rumors about that too.

      With LTE, it'd be possible to do exactly what he wanted - have a global MVNO that Just Works. You'd sell your phone and it would be able to hop onto any LTE network, no contract required. At that point the carrier would be

    • He said "unlicensed spectrum" I don't think he said "2.4Ghz Wifi".

      I work for The Serval Project, and using unlicensed spectrum for phone calls is exactly what we are working on. Right now our prototype software uses the 2.4Ghz wifi radios in android smart phones. But we eventually want to use other ISM bands like 915Mhz.

    • Applauding Jobs as a visionary for an idea that failed on technical and financial merit is kinda stupid.

      Recommended viewing: The Aviator [imdb.com]

      Applauding Jobs for anything is just nauseating. He hit a niche in the market and made it work for him, he stuck with a philosophy that happened to resonate with a big pile of discretionary income in the U.S. That's it. Bauhaus [wikipedia.org] did it first and did it a lot more daringly than Apple did. I don't begrudge him his success, but I don't put his genius up there with Einstein, Feynmann, or da Vinci. I'd more name his vision of Apple the Porsche or Gucci of tech.

    • the idea of a carrier pushing through a wifi network with enough coverage space is laughable.

      Yeah, but a hybrid design could have worked and been good for market tie-in.

      "Free calls near a Mac" was something I posted about here soon after the iPhone was introduced. I thought it would increase the sales of both.

      But, I think the AT&T contract probably prevented that, and by time it had gone non-exclusive Jobs had decided to kill the Macintosh line.

  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:11PM (#38067340)
    On a good day, Wifi (802.11a/b/g/n) can travel about 900 feet between devices. Even with a directional antenna and some good hardware, you're looking at a maximum of about one mile transmitting distance between devices... Not sure how you could have any kind of sustainable network within these limited parameters.
    • by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:35PM (#38067654) Homepage

      Well:

      1) Charge for access to online services (Apple Store, iTunes, etc).
      2) Offer free service to anyone who agrees to "share" their home wired internet connection by installing a special Apple router, which provides service to any i* devices in the area

      Where I live, our biggest ISP is doing something similar: everyone who signs up gets a Fonera router (unless they opt-out) and shares their unlimited connection with other clients. Now, the ISP can advertise "Free Wifi everywhere" as a feature to attract new clients. Win-win.

      • Add in mesh routing to that solution and any device connected to those routers can also extend coverage.
    • On a good day, Wifi (802.11a/b/g/n) can travel about 900 feet between devices. Even with a directional antenna and some good hardware, you're looking at a maximum of about one mile transmitting distance between devices... Not sure how you could have any kind of sustainable network within these limited parameters.

      You're missing the point (ironic, given the subject line you chose), perhaps because of the misleading Slashdot title. This wasn't about using Wi-Fi or the 2.4/5 GHz band. It was about using unlicensed parts of the EM spectrum - some of which is quite suitable for longer-distance communication (and is already used for such). The "wi-fi" part is only referencing the fact that 802.11 also uses a section of unlicensed spectrum.

      • by letsief (1053922)

        I didn't see that in the article at all. The ARS article explicitly said it was Wifi. Besides 2.4 and 5Ghz, where else is there enough contiguous unlicensed spectrum for anything like this to plausibly work?

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      On a good day, Wifi (802.11a/b/g/n) can travel about 900 feet between devices. Even with a directional antenna and some good hardware, you're looking at a maximum of about one mile transmitting distance between devices... Not sure how you could have any kind of sustainable network within these limited parameters.

      So just up the wattage on relays. You might cook a few pigeons in the process, too.

    • On a good day, Wifi (802.11a/b/g/n) can travel about 900 feet between devices. Even with a directional antenna and some good hardware, you're looking at a maximum of about one mile transmitting distance between devices... Not sure how you could have any kind of sustainable network within these limited parameters.

      Roll it out in ultra-dense urban areas, airports, and other places that Apple customers travel. It will never serve the sticks, and it won't need to serve the sticks, iPhone penetration in rural hillbilly America is still limited at best.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:19PM (#38067442) Journal
    I wrote an article (for a now-defunct tech news startup) predicting almost exactly this model, being built on top of the existing iChat voice / video architecture so you'd get free calls to Mac users and other iPhone users and only pay when calling a POTS number. I wondered in the article if it there was enough WiFi coverage for it to be able to compete with real mobile phones, even including some kind of mesh networking (which would impact the battery life). Then the iPhone came out and was a conventional phone. Good to know in hindsight that I was able to predict was Steve Jobs was thinking, even if I failed to predict what he did.
  • by rAiNsT0rm (877553) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:30PM (#38067586) Homepage

    Steve wasn't the greatest engineer, designer, or technologist but what he did do was think of what he saw as perfection and not waiver from it. This is the one thing I think all of us in tech really lost with his passing. Not even that what he came up with was always the best but the fact that he did dare to dream and then force it to fruition. So much of what we use and do came from his efforts even if they were taken or altered/improved upon.

    That is a very impossible thing to pass on or keep going by someone else and I really hope we don't begin a period of stagnation and minor iterative changes or updates because we seriously all lose. Linux, MS, or Mac user.

  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:31PM (#38067588)
    More proof that Apple doesn't believe in interoperable standards.

    Now who is surprised?
    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @09:03PM (#38068504)

      How would that be proof of anything? You've cited a single data point (which only exists as an unsubstantiated rumor) as proof of a trend that's allegedly endemic within the company.

      I won't deny that they do use some standards that are not interoperable (e.g. their iBooks format), but most of their devices are designed to play nice with the major formats, protocols, and devices out there already, and many of their biggest protocols or formats are either shared or are available to other companies or developers interested in making their devices play with Apple's network or devices. For instance, Bluetooth and wi-fi are the same as everyone else's, AirPlay is available for device manufacturers to license, the AAC files iTunes uses run on a variety of players, their work on h.264 went on to become the industry standard, and their devices sync with OSes other than their own and a plethora of online services besides their own. That covers wireless communication, audio, video, and the cloud, and it'd be trivial to list off dozens of other industry standard file formats that they open up or export, just the same as the other major OSes.

      If you had said it was proof of a proprietary solution to a problem, I'd have gone for that, but to suggest they're not interested in interoperability is either a misuse of the term or a choice to ignore almost everything they did from when Steve Jobs returned through to the present. I make no claims of them having embraced interoperability prior to that point, but since 1997 or so, they've made a number of strides towards making things as painless for consumers as possible, and that meant making their devices work with devices they hadn't made.

      • AirPlay is available for device manufacturers to license [...]

        And, gee, it's not our fault that all these other companies use DLNA, which provides essentially the same capability and was available years before Apple came up with AirPlay.

        Also, Apple is a big believer in interoperability when they're behind. Remember back when iTunes supported third-party music players? They come out with the iPod and *poof*, exit third-party player support.

        • You're imagining an issue where there is none. iTunes has always supported, and continues to support, third party players via XML files that any player can use to access information regarding the library files or playlists. The sort of third party support you're talking about was back before they started enforcing the use of those files, back when some third parties were using hackish solutions to directly access the library file itself. The file later changed (big surprise *eyeroll*), and their products br

  • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:33PM (#38067630) Homepage Journal

    this isn't even slightly surprising. the carrier is the #1 obstacle between Apple and their iPhone. It's the one aspect they have very little control over, (or that even has a bit of control over them) and I'm sure anyone at Apple would love to see an independent network to run their iPhones on.

    Right now what does someone do if they get a lot of dropped calls? blame Apple. Sometimes it's Apple's fault like with the antennas, but Apple fixed that, because they could. What now? still getting dropped calls? AT&T sucks? There's really nothing Apple can do about that. Apple is completely dependent on the carriers to make their product work well, or work at all for that matter. Any business that has one of their flagship products held by the balls by a company they have little to no control over is naturally going to be looking for alternatives. It's not good when your company is at another company's mercy.

  • Myopic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @07:44PM (#38067744)

    One of the more profound ways that the iPhone changed the mobile industry was the fact that it upended the relationship between the handset maker and the wireless carrier: Apple sells many of its phones directly to customers, and in general has much more of an upper hand with carriers than most phone manufacturers.

    Maybe in the United States, but in the rest of the world it's always been like this.

  • SJ vs BG (Score:4, Insightful)

    by y2imm (700704) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:03PM (#38067916)
    The more I learn about Steve Jobs, the better Bill Gates looks.
  • I had this idea once upon a time, still haven't gotten around to blogging it. The gist of it is that there's a whole bunch of newly (and pending) publicly available radio white space (up to a 50 mile radius at full power!), which could be used for wireless mesh networking [wikipedia.org]. Consider a few high-power fixed antennae blanketing an area as a pseudo-backbone, then delivered to people's home routers (which could use this and traditional (shorter-range) 802.11a/b/g/n wifi) which extend range, provide redundancy a

    • by mollymoo (202721)
      If you want long-distance propagation you need lower frequencies - the higher you go the closer to direct line-of-sight you need.

      The 2.4GHz band we use for WiFi is 100 MHz wide. Even WiFi with its puny range is crowded in that band. If you extended a 100 MHz wide band over a 50 mile radius it would be saturated in an instant. Well then, let's use a band of frequencies 100 times as wide - oh dear, now we need everything from 0-10 GHz, which means our frequencies are way too high for 50 mile links without lin
  • Steve got railed by the PC segment back in the day and may have wanted to say efu and do an Apple only phone network too. But, the telco's are not known for fairness or general customer service and control the device makers by how they tie the phone to contracts. So Steve could have been trying to say screw that also. I know Google tried to break that telco-device tie in the US but it failed.

    I'm going to figure that because it was early on in the iPhone development, it was Steve being Steve and wanting to m
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:17PM (#38068082)
    Google wanted to spend billions on spectrum. Google CEO was on Apple's board for a while.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:18PM (#38068096) Journal
    His original iDea was to create an iNternet that would work only with iDevices. But he was thwarted.
  • by cstacy (534252) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @08:44PM (#38068312)

    Apple used to have their own data network for their devices, about 17 years ago.
    I remember using Apple devices on airplanes back then.

    I thought it was the 80s, but I guess it was the 90s based on this press release I Googled:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/PAGENET+TO+PROVIDE+WIRELESS+NETWORK+SERVICES+FOR+APPLE+PRODUCT-a015985515 [thefreelibrary.com]

  • Republic Wireless (Score:2, Informative)

    by kerskine (46804)

    Republic Wireless is an new carrier (Virtual Network actually) that relies on its customers using Wifi for calls, texts, and other services http://republicwireless.com

  • Steve Jobs Wanted an iPhone-Only Wireless Network, but now he's dead. So who had the last laugh?
  • Non-iPhone network. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @11:31PM (#38069882)
    That's funny, last year I had an "everything but iPhone/Pad/Pod" network. All you have to do is add a backtick ` and none of them can connect. The password keyboard has NO backtick on iProducts, even though every other virtual keyboard on it does. I guess you might have been able to use a bluetooth keyboard, but few people have those.
    • There is a back tick key. If you hold your finger on the single quote button, you get a selection of four quote-like characters: ', ’,‘, and `. I'm not saying your network filter didn't work, it just kept people off who don't know how to use their idevices. (Sent from my iPhone, of course.)
  • by t2t10 (1909766) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @11:41PM (#38069972)

    One of the more profound ways that the iPhone changed the mobile industry was the fact that it upended the relationship between the handset maker and the wireless carrier:

    It sure did! Instead of a big, evil corporation screwing their customers, charging inflated prices, and delivering a product prone to failures... we now have another big, evil corporation screwing their customers, charging inflated prices, and delivering a product prone to failures!

  • by IrquiM (471313) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @04:08AM (#38071174) Homepage

    "One of the more profound ways that the iPhone changed the mobile industry was the fact that it upended the relationship between the handset maker and the wireless carrier."

    Most of the world already had this

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