It didn’t happen. Apple was a market darling at the time, and an entry into the lower-margin wireless services market would’ve crushed the stock.
However, Apple’s in a different place these days. The stock hit a 52-week low last week. Margins are already starting to contract. The wireless carrier partners that Apple was relying on in the past are haggling over subsidy rates, marketing Android devices over iPhones that result in healthier margins for the carriers, and are now — in the case of AT&T and Verizon Wireless — making it hard to upgrade to an iPhone 5 for longtime iPhone users.
If there was ever a time screaming out for Apple to be its own wireless carrier, that time is now.
Apple could roll out its own carrier, but the smarter bet is to snap up Sprint. As the world’s richest company, Apple can afford it, as well as bankroll the necessary improvements to make it a quality carrier. Buying Sprint also means that Apple wouldn’t be competing against Sprint at the low-end of the market.
Apple won’t face regulatory hurdles as the country’s second-largest smartphone platform buying the third-largest wireless carrier. Having its own carrier — the only one offering unlimited data — would also be a selling point for iPhones. If Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) takes the brazen move of limiting new Sprint purchases to Apple devices, the iPhone can position itself as a cheaper ownership proposition than Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s Android on the two larger carriers. It would also make sure that the slim chances of BlackBerry 10 or Windows Phone 8 succeeding get even more svelte.
Buying Sprint would redefine Apple’s positioning, and that’s a good thing at a time when the market hates Apple and everything is coming up Android.
Google’s done it. Why do you think it paid up for Motorola Mobility? Why do you think it rolled out Google Fiber as its own broadband service? Sometimes you have to do some pretty unconventional things to protect one’s turf. Google Android was exactly that! With Google Fiber, the dot-com darling simply didn’t want Internet providers capping usage to the detriment of its flow of online advertising. Now it’s Apple’s turn to do something daring to protect its turf.
The article Apple Buying Sprint Fixes Everything originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Rick Munarriz
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google.
Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.