Five years ago, the iPhone revolutionised the mobile business and kicked off a seismic shift in the technology industry that continues today. But the massive success of Apple’s phone has overshadowed the grim reality of an American wireless marketplace that has become increasingly hostile to innovation — a market tightly controlled by carriers who capriciously pick winners and losers while raising prices and insisting that their use of valuable public spectrum remain free of any oversight. While the iPhone is a raging success, the wireless market is headed towards total failure.
The evidence is everywhere, starting with the iPhone itself: Verizon famously passed on the device at first, and if not for Steve Jobs personally convincing AT&T to sell his phone sight unseen, the iPhone may never have existed. Jobs was well aware that he couldn’t reach the market of mobile phone consumers without carrier support — at the D3 conference in 2005, he famously called the carriers “orifices” and offered this withering assessment of the industry as it then stood: