Tuesday, January 17, 2006

JupiterResearch: "Mobile Me" by Apple

Julie Ask posts about Apple's "Mobile Me" trademark filing at the Jupiter Analyst Weblogs. On whether Apple is developing a phone, Ask writes:

Probably. Probably somewhere in their labs, there are prototypes of phones. Whether or not they bring one to market commercially is another story. Whether or not they will do so on their own is another open question. Hard to imagine carrier subsidies on a device unless there are revenues to be earned through downloaded services and content.
Ask believes that for cell phone users, "voice is the most important feature - not something that is within Apple's core competencies when compared to a Nokia or Motorola." Obviously with Apple's strength in design, ease of use, and music, she states, "Apple has a track record with building markets. They may create a $200 or $300 handset that becomes a fashion icon that everyone has to have. Selling 14 million ipods in one quarter says a lot."

Whether Apple goes the MVNO route, Ask doesn't think it will happen due to their lack of "relationships with consumers that translate into monthly subscription fees like the cable operators." She argues "they don't have content like ESPN or Disney. They could build a brand from scratch like Amp'ed. Not sure of the upside for them. Boost has been at it for a few years (and their parent is a wireless carrier) and they are just over a million subscribers." In the end, she can imagine Apple offering a handset, "but not the services (e.g., games, dating applications)."

I can buy most of her arguments except for the lack of content. If I recall, iTunes offers up a boatload of music, video, podcasts, etc so I don't believe they have a content problem. And comparing Apple to Boost doesn't really cut it either. With Apple's loyal and ever-expanding customer base, is it really hard to believe they couldn't get a million or so to buy a iPhone and subscribe to Apple Mobile? Whether it's worth the risk is another story...