A lot of ideas, both realistic and far-fetched, have been floated as to what Apple should do with its $76 billion cash stockpile. The latest suggestion making the tech blog rounds is that Apple should consider buying its own wireless carrier — T-Mobile perhaps — to better dominate the mobile market. It already controls smartphone hardware and software, why not service too? But would such a purchase really make sense?

It could be so beautiful: This is all just wishful thinking — an impractical conjecture that wouldn't get likely FCC approval — but it is a pretty "beguiling idea," says Jean-Louis Gassée in The Guardian. Apple would offer superior service and more straightforward pricing that your typical carrier, perhaps inspiring others (ahem, Verizon and AT&T) to up their games. And, in a couple of years, an Apple carrier could easily generate more money than iTunes.
"Steve, please buy us a carrier!"

And it could boost hardware sales: This could be pretty revolutionary, says Jared Newman at TIME. If Apple acquired a wireless carrier, it could create a whole new model for the industry. Rather than selling monthly plans for individual gadgets, Apple could offer plans to cover all of a user's devices, with the aim of selling as many of those devices — iPad, iPhones, and laptops — as possible. You'd pay a single monthly fee to get all your gadgets connected — something I've dreamed of for years. Existing wireless carriers have no motive to do this.
"How an 'Apple Wireless' provider could sell you more hardware"

But it would ultimately be bad for Apple: If Apple really were to buy T-Mobile, it would kill investor confidence and push stock prices down, says Rick Aristotle Munarriz at Daily Finance. The wireless carrier business is hardly booming — AT&T and Verizon's profit margins pale in comparison to Apple's, while Sprint hasn't been profitable for years. And, being a carrier would inevitably tarnish Apple's shiny reputation. Every dropped call and spotty signal would get blamed on Steve Jobs.
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