Report: Apple Considered Launching MVNO


We weren’t all nuts. MocoNews is reporting that patent filings show that Apple was at least considering an MVNO in the lead-up to the launch of the iPhone. The report quotes AppleInsider as saying that Apple was evaluating a case which “would allow all primary wireless carriers within a specific region to serve iPhone users by bidding prices for their service in a dynamic, real-time model.”

In addition, Apple could evaluate each network’s call quality and other factors as well before approving it for use with the iPhone.

“The obvious attraction is that people would get the cheapest calls at a particular time and place,” MocoNews said. “It was a bold plan, except that to be truly effective the handset would need to connect to both GSM and CDMA networks and—eventually—all the 3G upgrades. More significantly, it would have required Apple to convince all the operators to change their business models instead of just one, and without the drawcard of exclusivity.”

Many tech pundits thought in the days before Apple’s original iPhone unveiling that Apple would want to exercise more control over the cellular network, the way it controls everything to do with the iPod and the Macintosh. Lots of us disagree over Apple’s exclusivity deal with AT&T, but given the fate of MVNOs recently, it makes sense to have avoided the issue at least for Apple’s financials, if nothing else.