The Apple Phone No One Wants

Rumors continue that Apple is secretly at work on a new mobile phone that will enable users to download music on the fly. This would involve Apple partnering with a mobile operator -- unlikely, since Apple would not retain the control it likes over their products and marketing. Apple could buy phone time and become a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), but this option involves a lot of initial expense and management. The more important question is: do consumers want an Apple iPhone? Do they want a device that is both an iPod (a real one not a ROKR) and a mobile phone? My sense is that curiosity is spilt 50/50. Some like the idea of an all-in-one device and an equal number (at least from non-scientific polls of USC students) want to keep their phone and their music separated. And where does WiFi come into the mix? TMobile is marketing a WiFi enabled phone even though WiFi is not ready for prime time. Down the road? Maybe. Back to Apple. It is hard to believe that they don't have their development teams working on an IPhone prototype, but whether it ever makes it to market is a good question. Only .2% of cellphone users in this country as of July ever downloaded music directly to their mobile phones according to Media Metrics. Surprisingly low even when you factor in the lack of download-capable phones especially ones capable of storing iTunes. Apple CEO Steve Jobs will have to come up with the killer device if he is to succeed in this tricky space always remembering that what you don't do is frequently as important as what you decide to do.