Editorials

Apple doesn’t want to launch a wireless carrier. Good.

A rumor surfaced earlier yesterday that Apple wanted to launch its own wireless carrier, which seemed reminiscent of Google at the time I caught the announcement. There are a few reasons as to why Apple launching its own wireless service make sense. First, it fits Apple’s desire to entrap its users into the iOS and Apple experience, completely. There are a number of iOS users I’ve talked to over the last few years who remain with iOS despite their desire to “jump ship” to Android: “all my music, games, and movies are with iTunes and the App Store,” they said.

Should Apple create a wireless carrier, the company would follow the same desire it has shown with the iPhone, iTunes Radio which has been transformed into Apple Music, iOS in the Car in iOS 7, the Apple TV, and the long-rumored Apple Car: that is, Cupertino wants to control every aspect of your experience. A late Apple commercial talks about how superior the company is “when you control the hardware and the software,” a jab at Android OEMs who only control the hardware while Google, Android’s owner, controls the software (with the exception of Android OEM skins, Samsung’s TouchWiz, HTC’s Sense, and OnePlus’s OxygenOS being but three examples of many). If Apple is that intent on controlling iOS, imagine how much more controlling the company wants to be with regard to your wireless phone service, your Internet data in your vehicle?

apple-music

However, Apple has gone on the record as saying that the company is not interested in creating its own wireless carrier, which is something that has to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, it’s Apple we’re talking about. Apple has a history of dominating the overall experience of its users, hemming them in to the company’s “walled garden” of services and goods, such that Apple rebels who abandon the company find themselves in what may seem to be an endless sea of alternatives that, after overwhelming them, drive them back to the predictable territory of iOS.

At the same time, though, it’s Apple’s controlling nature that you have to fear. I mean, many Americans dislike Google’s control over user data, how the company uses mobile ads to boost its overall revenue, and the fact that Google gives away cloud storage so freely. Many Americans have said that they distrust Google more than the NSA, the intelligence threat exposed by former contractor Edward Snowden who has spent his life on the run ever since.

In the same vein, few Americans seem to be interested in Apple’s control over the masses. And yet, we find Apple claiming on one hand, “we won’t expose your data, use it frivolously, or sell it to third parties,” all the while increasing its own ad presentations to customers by checking their credit card balances and selling them affordable products.” Why does it matter if I have a balance on my account? Why does Apple need to check my credit card balance for any reason at all?

All major tech companies have a desire to entrap their users in one seamless experience, but things get to a point where the rubber meets the road. If Apple checking your credit card balance doesn’t freak you out, there’s the company’s desire to launch its own Flipboard-style app. Now, it’s no secret that news apps are extremely popular on mobile for tech enthusiasts such as myself who live and breathe the news 24/7. However, Apple’s decision to enter the news arena is quite odd, to say the least: why does Apple need to control how I digest the news on a regular basis?

Apple Store Shanghai

Apple is, in short, a tech company. Apple is a company that builds smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, and now smartwatches that are designed to enhance human lives and make them more productive. And yet, despite Apple’s label as a tech company, you wouldn’t know it: the company builds its iPhones to feature many of the same outdated specs as can be found on Android smartphones from three years or more ago, but turns around and sells 4-year-old tech with today’s prices (at a premium $649 per 16GB smartphone). When we look at the money Apple rakes in each quarter, the figures are astronomical. Yet and still, every page of the news is littered with “Apple’s working on its spaceship campus,” “Apple’s expanding its offices,” or “Apple’s building another new store in Hong Kong.”

Apple seems more concerned with its outer appearances than it does actually giving customers a top-notch experience. This became the outcry of Forbes Magazine this week when the tech company charged Apple with terrible work on iOS 8. To be honest, Apple’s worst software days started with iOS 7, but iOS 8 has only made things worse. At the end of the day, though, Apple has dropped the ball on iOS, with Apple’s OS suffering more app crashes than Android. And many of the new additions in software to iOS (if not 98% of them) are all borrowed from Windows OS and Android from years ago.

Between Google, Samsung, and Apple, Apple spends the smallest amount on Research and Development (or R&D), yet makes 92% of the profit from the smartphone industry (Samsung is the only other company that makes anything, and even then, only scoops up the profit Apple doesn’t make). How? How does a company that does little on the front end win on the back end? That’s still a mystery to me.

And when I heard that this same company wanted to launch a wireless carrier, I thought to myself, “Control.” It’s the one word that seems to sum up Apple. Apple has spent so much time telling carriers what to do, however, that it seemed counterintuitive to the way Apple has conducted its business. If Apple intends to create its own wireless carrier, why work with carriers at all? Why not have launched its own wireless carrier in 2007 when then CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone? Why even launch the device on AT&T, only to turn around 8 years later and attempt to remove the iPhone from carrier stores? And, should Apple do this, it would be going against wise business strategy: carriers have a business to maintain too, and pulling away from carriers would move carriers to fight back.

It may just be a rumor for now, but I wouldn’t put it past Apple. After all, it’s likely the case a few years ago that Apple never wanted to create its own music platform. iTunes Radio became a reality, and Apple Music has now become real. Apple is one to often say things, then retract them years later when they work against the company’s bottom line. For example, Steve Jobs said that large phones would never become part of Apple’s lineup. Add a new CEO (Tim Cook) to Apple, and what happens? The iPhone 6 Plus is born last Fall. In other words, Apple’s words today can’t be trusted 5 years from now.

But, for today, Apple’s rumor denial is excellent in my eyes. Today is a day in which I don’t have to worry about buying my iPhone from an Apple Store, then concern myself with living with Apple’s expensive wireless plans, low trade-in value, and the company’s push to move you to spend $99+ on an Apple Care protection plan.

Today, I can respect where Apple is. And I, for one, am happy to know that, in the world, there’s at least one thing Apple won’t control for today. Apple doesn’t want to launch a wireless carrier. Good.

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