IDG News Service reports
on comments made yesterday by venture capitalist John Stanton claiming that Steve Jobs had been investigating the possibility of using unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum as way to bypass carriers in setting up a mobile phone network in the years before the iPhone debuted. While the idea proved to be infeasible, Stanton's description of Jobs' vision fits with the Apple co-founder's overall goal of controlling the entire user experience from end to end.
Stanton, currently chairman at venture capital firm Trilogy Partnership, said he spent a fair amount of time with Jobs between 2005 and 2007. "He wanted to replace carriers," Stanton said of Jobs, the Apple founder and CEO who passed away recently after a battle with cancer. "He and I spent a lot of time talking about whether synthetically you could create a carrier using Wi-Fi spectrum. That was part of his vision."
According to Stanton, Jobs gave up on the idea by 2007 as the company pursued a more traditional arrangement for the iPhone through existing carriers, but still managed to have a significant influence on eroding the control carriers had previously exerted over the devices on their networks.
"If I were a carrier, I'd be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred," he said.
Companies like Apple and Google, which develops Android, sell a variety of software and services that capture revenue streams that might have otherwise gone to the operators.
Stanton was one of the early entrepreneurs in cellular technology, founding a small company called Western Wireless that later spun out part of itself as VoiceStream and which became T-Mobile USA following a 2001 acquisition by Deutsche Telekom. The remainder of Western Wireless was acquired by Alltel in 2005, and it appears that Jobs' conversations with Stanton occurred immediately after that time.