When Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, it transformed the cell phone industry; and if Steve Jobs had gotten his way back in 2007, Apple might have transformed the cell phone carrier industry, too.
According to mobile pioneer John Stanton, Steve Jobs wanted to make Apple a carrier prior to the launch of the iPhone.
Speaking at the Law Seminars International Event in Seattle, Stanton claimed to have worked with Jobs from 2005 to 2007 as Apple prepared the iPhone for release. At the time, Stanton said, Jobs wanted to use the wireless spectrum to create a new kind of network rather than sign on with a traditional cell phone carrier, the IDG News Service reports.
"He wanted to replace carriers," Stanton said, as quoted in the IDG story. "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 decided not to create an Apple network, of course, enlisting AT&T as the exclusive American carrier of the iPhone from 2007 until early 2011, when Verizon jumped on board. Sprint acquired the iPhone for its networks timed with the release of the iPhone 4S in October of this year, and a small Florida-based carrier called C Spire became the fourth American firm to land the iPhone soon after the 4S launched in late October.
Though Apple has not confirmed whether or not this story of a proposed Wi-Fi Apple mobile network is true, it does fit with Jobs' well-known preference to control his products from end-to-end, from microchip to the product's box design. It also fits with Jobs' reputation as an industry disrupter.
The thesis of Walter Isaacson's recent biography of Jobs posited that the late Apple co-founder had transformed six industries in his lifetime: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablets and digital publishing. If he had been able to create an Apple carrier back in the mid-2000s, he almost certainly would have transformed a seventh.
For more surprising facts about Steve Jobs and Apple, view our slideshow (below), based on biographer Walter Isaacson's recent interview with '60 Minutes.'