Jobs wanted to build cell network dedicated to iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Before launching the first iPhone, late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs wanted to replace established mobile carriers by creating a proprietary network specifically for the handset by leveraging an unused license-free spectrum band.



In a speech on Monday at the Law Seminars International event in Seattle, wireless industry pioneer John Stanton said Jobs looked to create a proprietary wireless network for Apple's upcoming iPhone rather than work with existing carriers, reports Macworld.



Stanton, who is now chairman of venture capital firm Trilogy Partners, said he met with the former Apple chief between 2005 and 2007 to discuss the creation of a new network built on the unlicensed WiFi spectrum. The move would give Apple the ability to manufacture a mobile handset as well as be in control of the service that supported the device.



"[Jobs] wanted to replace carriers," Stanton said. "He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision."



Jobs ultimately dropped the idea in 2007, however he still managed to have a huge impact on wireless operators who wanted to carry Apple's popular device. Most recently Sprint made a nearly $20 billion four-year deal with Apple to become an authorized iPhone carrier.



"If I were a carrier, I'd be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred," Stanton said.



He went on to explain that Apple sells software and services through outlets like the App Store and iTunes that might have otherwise gone to the operators. iOS apps download numbers continue to grow, recently reaching the 15 billion download mark, and look to be a significant source of revenue for the company in the coming year.



Stanton advises current wireless carriers to take chances with new phones and services rather than relying on established products. When he was head of Voicestream, the operator that later became T-Mobile, Stanton invested in Sidekick inventor Danger and Research in Motion.



"We had investments in those spaces because in part we were the little guy and we wanted access to unique devices," he said.



The issue of being carrier independent isn't completely unheard of as AppleInsider previously reported on Apple's granted patent filings in February that could allow future iPhones to select preferred wireless carriers by creating a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) system. If ever instituted, the system would call for carriers against each other over wireless services provided to iPhone users. The original patent filing dates back to April, 2008.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    1) I really wish the carriers were more open to profit sharing. I think that would have made it better for them in the long run by allowing them to no fork over huge lump payments up front as we are seeing with Sprint, and give even more reason for Apple to update older iPhones.





    2) I'm surprised this gem from Robert X. Cringely wasn't mentioned in the article. Even if Jobs knew nothing of the article it is basically a lot of what Josb was envisioning with a WiFi-everywhere infrastructure that would disrupt mobile network operators.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    And if they had made their own phone network, well then they probably wouldn't sold as many iPhones.



    I <3 GSM
  • Reply 3 of 38
    It sounds like Steve Jobs to want to completely own responsibility for the user experience. The carriers' interests have sometimes conflicted with Jobs' vision. To think that Apple would have gone into competition with them. Plus, if they had done it, there would have been even less distinction between the iPhone and the iPod Touch.
  • Reply 4 of 38
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post


    It sounds like Steve Jobs to want to completely own responsibility for the user experience. The carriers' interests have sometimes conflicted with Jobs' vision. To think that Apple would have gone into competition with them. Plus, if they had done it, there would have been even less distinction between the iPhone and the iPod Touch.



    If we're talking WiFi-only there would be no need for an iPod Touch. The problem is that the concept in fatally flawed. I'm glad Apple went the route they went. All cellphone users are better for t.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    too bad they didn't. can't believe how much we pay for these 'sh**' networks.
  • Reply 6 of 38
    An unlicensed WiFi network would not be a "cell network"
  • Reply 7 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    The problem is that the concept in fatally flawed.



    Why? 802.22 makes me think a nationwide "Wi-Fi" network is doable.
  • Reply 8 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by screamingfist View Post


    too bad they didn't. can't believe how much we pay for these 'sh**' networks.



    LOL. And you think Apple would have settled for the profit margins that AT&T/Verizon/etc receive?



    Think again. There's NOTHING about Apple products and prices that suggest that an Apple network wouldn't have been as expensive if not more.
  • Reply 9 of 38
    shrikeshrike Posts: 494member
    This is one of those crazy ideas (disintermediating the telcos) that we'd all love to happen, but it's a capital cost no one, not Apple, not Google, is willing to take on.



    Taking on the telcos with ubiquitous ad-hoc wifi sharing is kind of a cool idea. Democratizing. If every phone was a WiFi hotspot, could you have an internet connection through WiFi sharing across multiple WiFi hotspot hops a mile away? I don't know. If public WiFi was a reality, this idea could be tried out, but alas no.



    The other way is to create a wireless network separate from the telcos today. That'll involve investing 10s of billions in backhaul infrastructure and 10s of billions of wireless spectrum licenses from the gov't. 40 billion may not be enough. If Apple was willing to do though, just create a wireless network independent of the existing telcos, operate it like iTunes-like "a little bit above break-even", with the all-you-can-eat plans, pay-as-you-go plans of our dreams, it would disintermediate the existing telcos.
  • Reply 10 of 38
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,152member
    Thank god that didn't happen.
  • Reply 11 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    LOL. And you think Apple would have settled for the profit margins that AT&T/Verizon/etc receive?



    Think again. There's NOTHING about Apple products and prices that suggest that an Apple network wouldn't have been as expensive if not more.



    Sure there is. Who wouldn't want to pay an unsubsidized $600 and not have to pay a cell bill.



    Even if they charged a premium to pay for the network, it would take a lot to reach the $2000+ we pay over a 2 year contract.



    Remember. Apple makes money on hardware. Services exist for them to sell the hardware. The concept was good, albeit impossible at this time. Maybe in 10-20 years we will see something like that.
  • Reply 12 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    LOL. And you think Apple would have settled for the profit margins that AT&T/Verizon/etc receive?



    Think again. There's NOTHING about Apple products and prices that suggest that an Apple network wouldn't have been as expensive if not more.



    the expense isn't the issue. its what you get for it that is.
  • Reply 13 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by StLBluesFan View Post


    Think again. There's NOTHING about Apple products and prices that suggest that an Apple network wouldn't have been as expensive if not more.



    Well, texting, video and picture messages would be free. I'm sure data would be unlimited. And if the network had been created at the iPhone's inception, such a network would be priced competitively with existing ones, so right now, provided the telecoms do exactly what they've done (the butterfly effect asserts that they wouldn't, but let's ignore that), Apple would have the most affordable network.
  • Reply 14 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    The issue of being carrier independent isn't completely unheard of as AppleInsider previously reported on Apple's granted patent filings in February that could allow future iPhones to select preferred wireless carriers by creating a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) system. If ever instituted, the system would call for carriers against each other over wireless services provided to iPhone users. The original patent filing dates back to April, 2008.



    The MVNO option was widely discussed and speculated about by the whole blogging world and their pet rabbit in the unprecedented rumour mill and wild build-up to the emergence of iPhone v1 in 2007.



    In the event, with hindsight, the decision to play hard-ball with the carriers turned out to be the right (and massively lucrative) one, with initial objectors like Verizon and Sprint being eventually assimilated into the i-Collective...



    Resistance was futile :-)
  • Reply 15 of 38
    moxommoxom Posts: 325member
    When the rumours were first flying around about Apple introducing a phone, I imagined that this would be something they would have considered or even introduced.



    Who knows - maybe this is something we will see in the future...
  • Reply 16 of 38
    Let's say this can work in the US (big assumption).



    Then what do you do in other countries? $80B can only go so far (can't believe I am writing this!).
  • Reply 17 of 38
    I still want them to do this....



    Here's a plan- buy Sprint. Unlimited everything for up to 5 apple devices per account. $80 a month. The end.



    ask me why this would be smart for Apple- ask me- go ahead!
  • Reply 18 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iansilv View Post


    Here's a plan- buy Sprint. Unlimited everything for up to 5 apple devices per account. $80 a month. The end.



    $80 a month regardless of the number of devices? So $80 if you have one and $80 if you have five (and have it be an extra $15 or something for every device over 5)?



    I like it. A lot.



    It's financially impossible for any company anywhere, but it's a great-sounding idea.
  • Reply 19 of 38
    If apple partners with the cablecompanies it can. Here on long island cablevision has wifi access points in a lot of places. Its 15/3 speeds. I use it for data when not home. Comcast is basing there wifi off of what cablevision is doing. Apple can partner with them to start wifi calling.



    I know cablevision is looking into it,
  • Reply 20 of 38
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    $80 a month regardless of the number of devices? So $80 if you have one and $80 if you have five (and have it be an extra $15 or something for every device over 5)?



    I like it. A lot.



    It's financially impossible for any company anywhere, but it's a great-sounding idea.



    Up to five devices at once. Maybe 3, whatever- the point is that with the 4G network, Apple would have a way to offer broadband to homes. This would head-off Cox and other home broadband providers from imposing data caps which would stifle the ability of consumers to buy movies on the internet from Apple.
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