Later this year, Apple will unveil a major upgrade to their game changing iPhone. One of the new upgrades will definitely be moving it to their own A4 chipset using the long anticipated iPhoneOS version 4. Thus enabling iPhone to play apps faster and most importantly, the ability to multi-task. Something that Android and Palm Pre devices already do pretty well but iPhone still lags behind. However, the most revolutionary factor would be in the pricing structure and its relationship with carriers. In short, iPhone will most likely be available unlocked and uncarrier bound.
With the launch of iPad, Apple has indicated its desire to sell its hardware unlocked and non-carrier bound. This is just the beginning as more and more devices will follow the same pattern.
While its relationship with AT&T and other international carriers has been highly successful in selling millions of cellphones worldwide, it has also created a major problem for its apps developers (and itself) in the form of jailbroken iPhones. Apple and probably AT&T did make some money on the jailbroken devices (hardware and cellphone contract sales), but at the same time, it has suffered an estimated US$450 million in revenue losses (from unpaid downloaded apps). This is only because jailbroken devices, are able to download iPhone Apps without the need to pay for them.
Earlier in January 2010, Google launched its NexusOne device unlocked and right off their website. No carrier or any shop necessary for purchase. The phone was also made simultaneously available through T-mobile with a two year contract at a reduced price. Among many reasons to adopt this methodology was for Google to discourage hackers in breaking android operating system and then messing around with the OS. When the phone is already unlocked no one will need a reason to break it. Apple will most likely follow the same path. While its relationship with AT&T will continue but consumers will have an option of picking an iPhone right off the Apple Store; unlocked and ready to use with any carrier in the world. Of course, AT&T locked phone will still be cheaper than the unlocked version.
This move will go a long way in strengthening Apple’s outreach to more places/countries worldwide to sell their content. They will no longer be bound by the reach of the (partner) carriers to sell devices. In short, the whole world will become their playing field. And the more Apple devices people choose to own, the more they are likely to buy content from Apple directly. Another advantage for Apple will be that the unlocked variety will finally discourage hackers from jailbreaking their devices, which in turn would be boon for Apple, as it will bring in more revenues in legitimate app store sales. And once the hacker community becomes irrelevant, maybe Enterprise apps will find their way into the iPhone platform. Currently, hacked/jailbroken phones are a cause of concern for many enterprise apps and hence, are not offering as many functionality as expected. Once this hole is taken care of, enterprise class applications will become popular on this platform, thus making Apple king of the corporate world as well.
Apple’s iPad stellar launch, earlier this week confirmed many of the rumors going around about the future of Apple. Steve Jobs is now on a path to take Apple beyond IT realm of nifty niche products to the world’s largest content controlling and distribution conglomerate. To achieve those goals, they now have the software (iTunes, App Store), the hardware (A4 chips powering iPad for now but soon iPhones, MacBooks and iMacs), the users (over 50 million just on iPod Touch and iPhone worldwide) and now the content (thousands of songs, games, movies and apps). With iBooks now Apple will control almost all major media contents out there.