The IDG News Service reports that Steve Jobs’s original plan for the iPhone was to bypass carriers entirely using a network owned and run by Apple.
John Stanton, a chairman at the venture capital firm Trilogy Partnership and a legend in the mobile industry, answered questions during an interview that was part of the Law Seminars International conference in Seattle yesterday. While discussing the future of the mobile industry, he talked about his interaction with Steve Jobs.
Stanton has spent a long time working in the mobile industry. He worked at McCaw Cellular, which later became AT&T Wireless, and later founded Western Wireless. This latter company started Voicestream, which went on to be acquired by Deutsche Telekom in 2001 and became T-Mobile. Western Wireless was acquired by Alltel in 2005.
In the period between 2005 and 2007, Stanton and Jobs met frequently to discuss Jobs’s dream of creating his own network, presumably for the original iPhone. Stanton and Jobs discussed at length the possibilities of using the unlicensed part of the Wi-Fi spectrum to create a network that could give Jobs complete control over the end-user experience.
“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.”
Ultimately, Jobs found this to be unfeasible, but Stanton went on to praise Jobs’s efforts and the overall impact he had.
“If I were a carrier, I’d be concerned about the dramatic shift in power that occurred,” he said.
Stanton’s advice to carriers was to take risks on newer devices and services instead of investing on well-established products, as companies like Apple and Google are making money that may have originally gone to them.