Apple’s iPod phone a WiFi phone?

Trying to go against Nokia or Sony Ericsson or Motorola is a huge challenge because these guys have an already established marketshare. Trying to please wireless carriers with their stiff spec needs is even more difficult (if your phone is not sold via a wireless carrier today, it pretty much ‘doesn’t exist’ for most people, so carriers are a necessary evil to please and sell through).

What if the Apple iPod smartphone of the distant future that I blogged about a few weeks ago is not a GSM/CDMA phone but a WiFi VoIP (or voice/video iChat-based) phone? Today both Netgear and WNC announced WiFi Skype/SIP phones so this era is coming towards us, fast. Think about it:

1. You only have to go against Vonage, Skype and few other SIP-based companies which all put together don’t have more than 7-8 million active users in USA.

2. Much-much easier to implement and control.

3. Apple could use iPod’s immense success to make VoIP truly successful and give Apple a huge userbase in communications. There are more than 200 million iPods sold until today and if future iPods are phone-like supporting VoIP via WiFi, Apple can established a NEW VoIP market, get a grip on it and destroy not only Skype and Vonage, but put a foot against cellphone carriers too (which btw they are already afraid of VoIP). WiFi coverage is going to increase anyway. Apple could even establish its own hotspots (used for a small fee), or be able to use Google’s upcoming free WiFi plan.

Personally I don’t like the latency issues that come with VoIP apps but if implemented right, it might be a good idea to “think different”.

You see, EVEN if Apple manages to create a supa-dupa GSM/CDMA smartphone, it will still be competing against already established solutions. It will feel a lot like how the Palm Treo is today against everything else. Instead, if Apple goes the VoIP route and use the iPod’s success as a catalyst, Apple not only will be the only phone manufacturer in this new VoIP (or voice/video iChat-based) market, but also the major carrier of itself. They will be able to CONTROL everything: from the hardware, to the software to the actual wifi hotspots. And controlling everything is good business, no matter how “microsoft-ish” it might sound to some people. Business is business.

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