Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Apple Eyes the Wireless Auction

Steve Jobs & Co. consider joining the FCC's auction of wireless spectrum, and a win would give Apple many intriguing options—for the iPhone and more.
I don't think it makes any sense at all for Apple to try to manage a broadband network. But that's what partners are for. This is an easy one: Apple + Google (+ maybe one other partner). Or, as one commenter suggested, Apple + Intel on WiMax. Either way, the interesting part to consider is what Apple would do with their own broadband network:
Apple could conceivably move to a "cloud computing" approach, where it would store customers' files, music, movies, e-mails, and other content on servers in its own data centers, and dole it out directly to whatever device a customer is using at any given time.
Tell me that doesn't sound like Google's territory. Consider this scenario: Apple delivers the front end (devices, user interface, client OS, etc.) and Google delivers the back-end (data centers, network management, etc.) and they work together on services (iTunes, Gmail, VOIP, etc.). That's certainly a sandbox where I'd like to play.



  1. interesting stuff. i would wonder the specifics of apple's 5 year deal with at&t and whether it prohibits them from doing VOIP, or regular cell calls on *ahem* existing networks (not ones that say, haven't been created yet).

    it would be pretty neat to use apple's good looks to sell google's network (and eliminate the need for a google phone).my money says they go with sprint or an existing hardware manufacturer that also has brick & mortar stores to help with live/breathing customer support. then again, if they JUST want hardware, i'm sure nokia and motorola are cheap and willing these days. they must be shitting a stack of bricks since the iphone dropped.

    but hell, apple stock is doing well, could they just buy instead of google?

    as a slight aside, verizon recently filed court papers against the fcc requirement for open access on the new spectrum.

  2. Verizon is just crying because they're worried they can't compete with an open network. Their own network is about as locked down as you can make a network. Berliners nostalgic for East Germany would feel right at home behind their walled garden.

    If Apple and Google partnered, I'd expect them to split the license cost in some way. Why pay for all of it and do all the heavy lifting yourself when you can bring on a partner to share the work, the cost and the risk?

    I suspect Apple's deal with AT&T is limited to the iPhone line and not necessarily every handset they might produce. But that really depends on how good AT&T's lawyers were.

    I think the Google phone is really more of a platform than a device, more like an API or UI on top of Linux. They're just trying to make it easy for handset manufacturers to hook into Google services (and prep the way for their own network should they decide to go that route). I'd be real surprised to see Google release their own hardware; more likely Google co-branded hardware with an established manufacturing partner.

    I don't see anybody else who owns spectrum partnering with Sprint because of their WiMax initiative. However, Sprint is a great potential partner for anyone without spectrum becuase they already do MVNO and they're looking for ways to bring customers (and money) to the new WiMax network (which will rock).

    Interesting times ahead, that's for sure.