Should Apple use its huge-mind-bending cash pile to buy a carrier? Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée thinks so. And hey, T-Mobile happens to be on the block.
Not gonna happen. Because it’s out of Apple’s comfort zone, and because it would be a terrible idea.
But first, here’s why Gassée thinks it would be a good idea:
- Apple would provide much better service than the carriers. More transparent pricing. No gouging on things like SMS. Better customer service, and so forth.
- Apple could vertically integrate T-Mobile. This is the most tantalising bit. By focusing the entire network on the iPhone and on the wireless technology supported by the iPhone, “Apple Wireless” could build a great voice and data experience for the iPhone. Just like Apple designing its own chips for the iPhone makes the whole package better because the software and hardware are fine-tuned for each other, wireless service on iPhones on Apple Wireless would be stellar because Apple Wireless would have to carry just iPhones.
Photo: Illustration by Business Insider
Let’s unpack this. (And yes, it should be noted that Apple has never done a big acquisition and is likely never to do one because that would be too much of a culture clash and painful integration.)
The first point, about Apple being able to provide better service than the incumbents, is quite likely true. It’s also irrelevant. Apple could probably make great cars if it wanted to, it doesn’t mean it makes sense for it to buy BMW.
The second point about vertical integration is tantalising, but it’s also moot. As TechCrunch’s MG Siegler points out, for such a deal to get past regulators, Apple would almost certainly have to promise to keep carrying Android and other phones, and keep supplying iPhones to other carriers. In other words, it couldn’t take any advantage from the supposed benefits of the integration.
So Apple would just be stuck with a huge, expensive, low-margin service business which it doesn’t understand, doesn’t like, and wouldn’t really add anything to its product mix.
“Apple Wireless” is a great fantasy. But it’s just a fantasy.
(Of course, anything is possible. Look at what just happened.)
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