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.
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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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