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Mobile Me: Some Predictions Are Easier Than Others

By Greg Galitzine


This year is barely six weeks old, and already there�s lots of speculation regarding the next �big thing.� Who � or what � will be this year�s Tech Darling? What will be the �it� that can stand in for the �it� in all those eBay commercials? Whatever �it� is, �it� will have to be more than practical and cool. �It� will have to have attitude.

One possibility is that Apple will finally jump into the mobile communications fray with some combination video-iPod-phone-PDA type device. There�s even talk in some quarters that Apple may become an MVNO. For those still unaware, MVNO stands for Mobile Virtual Network Operator. Essentially, this is a company, or perhaps better stated, a brand, that positions itself as a wireless operator, catering to a specific niche or community, or simply to a massive audience that might be persuaded to purchase service from that brand. They�re not really a phone company with switches and gateways etc�, they partner with an existing carrier for wholesale minutes and all that. They are essentially a marketing machine, driving their brand further into the consumer consciousness. If anyone knows marketing, it�s Apple.

So, in this case, Apple (quote - news - alerts) might partner with a Sprint (news - alerts) or Verizon (quote - news - alerts) and promote �AppleTalk� or �ChattyMac� or some other service. Of course, that part is pure speculation. But, with Apple�s recent filing for trademarks for the term Mobile Me, it seems ever more plausible that they might leverage their strength (the iPod) and move into the phone business.

Apple currently partners with Motorola and Cingular on the Rokr music player/phone, but the word on the street is that the limited capacity of 100 songs is just not enough to draw the interest of real iPod fans.

Our very own Rich Tehrani has been speculating on the impending release of what he calls the VoIPod ever since December 2004. I think this is a case where the prediction will live on long enough that when the device finally arrives, Rich will be able to proudly point to his prediction and say, �I told you so.� According to Rich, �Service providers should be looking at the iPOD/iTunes model as how to sell bundled hardware and software and most importantly reduce churn� This concept is part of VoIP 2.0 and what I believe is the future of our industry.�

I touched on this phenomenon in a blog entry back in August of last year and, in fact, Apple was near the top of my list as a candidate for becoming a MVNO. I�ve never been one much enamored with making predictions, but if this comes to be, and one day we�re chatting on VoiVideoiPodPhones and buying minutes fro JobsTel, I�ll be sure to IM you from what will likely be the �coolest device ever� while I�m watching the trailer for Rocky VII, and tell you, in stereophonic sound, �I told you so.�

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