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As Jobs Departs, Apple Moves to Dismantle the Mobile Market

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By now you know the news: Steve Jobs is stepping down as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) chief executive. What you might have missed in all the hubbub is yet another rumor of the iPhone 5 finding its way to a new carrier. This time? T-Mobile.

Several sources are reporting the story. TIME's Tech Land blog has a good rundown of the varying innuendo. All suggest some form of deal between Apple and T-Mobile is in the works, following earlier reports that Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) will also sell the iPhone 5 when it ships in the fall.

Combine these rumors with reports that Apple will include radios for both the major cell network technologies (i.e., CDMA and GSM) and you've got what looks like a major disruption in the making. Apple could be planning a smartphone that works equally well on any carrier network. I can only imagine how nervous AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) must be.

Historically, carriers have worked out limited exclusivity of certain premium handsets in order to preserve profits or even attract users lusting after upgrades or features. AT&T did it with the original iPhone while Verizon took heat for years for securing early access to Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) BlackBerry handsets. Congress threatened to investigate the practice at one point.

Now it appears those days are gone, and with them any hope of carriers using artificial lures to lock in customers. They'll be forced to compete not only on price, but also on call quality, data delivery, and (gasp!) customer service. You know what? It's about freaking time.

Do you agree? Disagree? Use the comments box below to let us know whether you're planning on buying the iPhone 5, and if so, which carrier you'd go with. You can also add Apple to your watchlist for up-to-date analysis as soon as it's published.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Research In Motion. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2011, at 9:04 AM, ConstableOdo wrote:

    Lots of rumors and nothing substantial. Yeah, the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 are taking over the world, except they haven't been announced.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2011, at 11:19 AM, deemery wrote:

    The primary advantage of my current ATT iPhone is that it works in Europe. I won't consider the current vPhone because it only works in the US. So count me as someone -very interested- in a multi-band iPhone.

    And I think the title of the article is a bit provocative, but is essentially correct (even if the article content doesn't flesh out/justify the title.) I'm thrilled to not have to depend on any wireless carrier for both handset and network access, "service" has been sorely lacking in this industry and that's a very significant part of the change forced by Apple.

  • Report this Comment On August 26, 2011, at 9:32 PM, wjcoffman wrote:

    I despise the big cell carriers. Nah, despise isn't right. Loathe is closer. Never was able to figure out the bill. Just wanted to have unlimited text for one kid and enough minutes to talk to the other occasionally. Best I could do cost $130/month all told (that includes all those mysterious fees, at least a mystery until you get the bill). Tried stripping off one kid and the others bill went to $50ish the first month like I was told but the next month it jumped to $110. I'm still trying to figure that bill out.

    Now I have $45/month StraightTalk for one (~ $48 with the mystery fees) and Net10 for the other for about $16/month. All that to say anything that levels the field making phone calls, texting, and Internet access the commodities they is exciting indeed!

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