My Sony Ericsson T616 is competent and usable, but it’s starting to fall apart after a couple of years of hard use. I’m not terribly excited by my options. The only thing that keeps me from just going ahead and getting (a not terribly exciting) RAZR is that I’m holding out for Apple to release a phone.
Long rumored, never confirmed, the possibly apocryphal Apple mobile phone seems like a certainty to me. I don’t cover mobile phones for Jupiter, so I’ve got no inside information. But how could they not do it?

  • Mobile phones are encroaching on iPod. The technology to make a mobile phone a music player for undemanding consumers is getting small enough and good enough that iPod’s advantages over music phones are narrowing quickly. Apple’s rapid product life cycle shows they understand the nature of this threat. iPods are getting so small that the only way to make them usable is to incorporate them into some other device.
  • Apple needs a network for iPod. Even if mobile phones weren’t evolving into a threat, there’s money to be made by allowing users to connect to the iTunes store whenever they’re bored. There’s also money to be made from iPod users who don’t have easy or regular access to a computer.
  • Apple can cut a good deal on a network. Apple can get a good deal on network access, and can achieve critical mass in a reasonable period of time. Don’t think we won’t dump our current cell carriers overnight to use an Apple phone.
  • Apple can create the phone we all want. This is the company that re-invented the MP3 player, after all. Even with a few years to study what they did, the industry is still scratching their heads and asking, “How’d they do that?”
  • Apple can add real value to a network. The only thing that consumers hate more than their cheap, trashy, hard-to-use mobile phones is the company that provides the service. Don’t we all crave the simplicity of iTunes’s pricing structure from our mobile carrier?
  • Apple owns its distribution network. The mobile phone industry may be the only business with lousier distribution network than Detroit. Apple has the end-to-end control necessary to break through the noise and clutter of fake promotions, dishonest bundling, and cheesy retail that characterize the mobile phone market.
  • Apple needs another hit. In iPod, they built a new company that is now bigger than their computer company in a few short years. How much longer can they sustain their growth rates with their existing product lines?

Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.