Whitey Bluestein, an experienced wireless industry strategist, is the source spreading this news. He believes iPad owners will have data packages bundled for them and international roaming packages targeting iPhone owners, via iTunes.
Bluestein speculates that Apple will contract with one of the major operators to set up Apple Mobile. Apple will become one of many Mobile Virtual Network Operators, albeit the largest.
Many may be skeptical, but just a brief flashback to when Apple first convinced AT&T to become the first iPhone carrier and surely you will agree it is not so outrageous. After all, AT&T is still reaping the rewards from that decision. As many as four of five smartphones AT&T sells are iPhones. Apple shifted the balance of power from operator to vendor, never done before in the twenty-five year history of mobile technology.
Whichever carrier Apple approaches first would be outrageously insane to not take the deal. Even if they must offer a low wholesale price, the volume of business outweighs this. Besides, if one operator turns the largest company in the world down, Apple will go to that operator’s competition. The volume of business is far too big to ignore or lose.
As far back as mere months prior to the iPhone was announced, Apple made these plans. The patent they filed on October 10, 2006 was for Dynamic Carrier Selection, placing them as the wireless carrier reselling the various carriers’ services to Apple customers. This patent filing was extended last year.
Bluestein declared that Apple has assembled everything necessary to pull this off now. There is iTunes, the billing system. Then they have 400 retail outlets. On top of this, perhaps the most deadly of all, are the loyal Apple fans. Not the least of all components is the brand Apple has built.
The average revenue per user in the U.S. is $50, but iPhone users eat up twice as much monthly usage. In addition to all the games and apps they purchase, there are also movies, music, and videos. Apple might like to round that off with mobile service to iPad and iPhone clients.
Bluestein believes that either Apple approached the operators or they approached Apple, but that it is happening. In all of this he does not give any real proof for the belief in the timing being now.
Google is behind the game, having just acquired Motorola recently and embarking on tailoring its own handsets. Apple’s be doing it for years. So Google is in no position to challenge Apple, should Apple go this way.
One missing element for Google is the lack of retail outlets. Bluestein is wrong, though, when he claims Google has no experience with subscription services. In fact, Gmal for businesses is on a subscription service. Granted, Google is lacking the finesse that radiates from Apple’s iTunes store.
It is not likely that Bluestein is right about Apple’s timing and he is clearly not always right. However, Apple will eventually grab this piece of the pie (pun intended) and soon become a mobile service provider along Google.