Australian telco pans iPhone from Apple: "Stick to knitting!"

by Guy J Kewney | posted on 16 February 2007

Largest telco in Australia is Telstra. Will it be carrying the Apple iPhone? will it heck, says the carrier. Operations chief Greg Winn told Smarthouse that "The iPhone may meet some significant operational challenges when it makes its market debut."

Greg Winn [left] should be taken more seriously than some might at first think. Apple's device needs fast Internet access, but the iPhone designers have chosen not to go with 3G technology. Instead they've gone for EDGE - a bit faster than GPRS, perhaps, but not ideal for video downloads.

In the Australian market, EDGE is not a popular technology. Telstra uses it; nobody else. That means that effectively, Apple's only potential customer on the whole continent has ruled out the product.

Does this matter? Not to the enthusiast! - "Most commentators agree that Apple will need a 3G version of the iPhone for markets outside North America, so the fact that Telstra is the only Australian carrier with an EDGE network is neither here nor there," retorted ITWire reporter, Steve Withers

"There's an old saying - stick to your knitting - and Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that's not their knitting," Mr Winn told AAP."You can pretty much be assured that Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE and others will be coming out with devices that have similar functionality."

Strangely, the fact that Winn has no axe to grind here hasn't persuaded Engadget that he might be unbiased. His comment that "Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that's not their knitting," provoked Engadget to comment: "We wonder if anyone tried that line the last time Apple pulled something like this, with that little 'iPod' thing of theirs a few years back.

But phone industry veterans say that the comment by Winn is spot on the money. "Making a phone isn't like making just any consumer electronics device," said a consultant, speaking from 3GSM in Barcelona. "To make GSM devices is doubly hard for outsiders - there's a cartel involved which owns all the intellectual property and they share the patents."

Meanwhile, Cisco's claim to own the iPhone name is still unresolved, reports Reuters. The Linksys-owned name is in legal dispute, and Cisco (Linksys's parent) "agreed to give Apple Inc. more time to respond to the lawsuit it filed over the 'iPhone' trademark, extending negotiations until February 21."

And just to rub salt and lemon juice into the paper cut - the iPhone domain name is taken too - by someone else. Specifically, it's owned by "The Internet Phone Company."

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