Harried Carriers

By eweek  |  Posted 2003-04-10 Print this article Print

  • Minding the gap. Its one thing to partner with Lucent to jump-start the Wi-Fi movement, but what does Apple know—or, even better, want to know—about GSM and CDMA radios? Then theres the operating system part. It doesnt seem to have an embedded one lying around, and it would be loath to license one. The company has the cash and cachet to bring in the necessary engineering talent, but isnt this straying a bit from its core competencies? Besides, if Apple were to start monkeying around with cellular data, its notebook line wouldnt be a bad place to start. Does it take a joint venture with Verizon for a PowerBook to be able to use a 1xRTT card?
  • Almost Bluetooth. Not that Apple is generally a reactive company, but perhaps the best reason for avoiding this dicey market is that Apple doesnt have to produce a cell phone to quench its users thirst for a portable communications experience thanks to Bluetooth. As noted in a previous column, the tiny base of Bluetooth phones doesnt make it practical for Apple to build a device that sucks cellular bandwidth through such handsets, but stay tuned. As the market grows, Apple would love to do an end-run around the carriers like its did around the labels with its "Rip. Mix. Burn." campaign.
Apple has repeatedly said its not going to get into the PDA business, but something has to give. Jobs acknowledges that the PC business is going mobile, and with Apples continued investment in its portable line, mobile devices beyond a laptop big enough to dive off must be in the queue. I cant imagine that the iPod was Apples 20GB of fame in the portable device market. Furthermore, something tells me it didnt reintroduce Inkwell handwriting recognition just so folks could relive Newton nostalgia on their Wacom tablets. But, as OpenDoc taught us, sometimes the parts just dont come together.
So. Apples not going to produce a cell phone. Dont despair, though, fair Macolytes: If they can turn a Super Nintendo into a portable gaming unit, Im sure theres an engineer out there with a Dremel, soldering iron and a lot of time on his hands stroking his chin as he contemplates an eMate. Wireless Supersite Editor Ross Rubin is a senior analyst at eMarketer. He has researched wireless communications since 1994 and has been covering technology since 1989. More from Ross Rubin:


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