In a bid for world domination, err, an expanded presence in the mobile market, Apple has renewed a patent application to become a mobile carrier.
That’s right. In addition to buying your phone from Apple, you would also send your monthly payment to Steve Jobs. Realistically, Apple won’t be able to actual set up their own network. They would have to rent spectrum from someone. Best Buy already does something like this, renting spectrum from Clearwire. LightSquared, which has yet to begin operations, would be another option.
But Apple is targeting bigger fish. In the patent application, they describe a situation where they would rent spectrum from the various carriers regionally. For example, they might rent from AT&T, however, if AT&T is backlogged in a certain region and Verizon has a surplus, then they would turn to Verizon in these regions.
The next iPhone is expected to come with both GSM and CDMA radios, making them world phones. But they would also make a scenario like the one described above feasible.
In a perfect world for consumers, it could also lead to bidding wars between carriers to win Apple’s business, which in turn would likely drive down prices for Apple subscribers. In an imperfect world, the major carriers wouldn’t see any value in clogging up their own networks with data hungry iPhone users, and would tell Apple to go fly a kite.
Seeing how the latter is probably more likely, which is why Apple becoming its own carrier is probably still several years from even being a realistic possibility. But don’t be surprised if this is something that Apple aggressively pursues. They are renowned control freaks when it comes to their devices. The next logical step would be controlling the networks their devices run on.