Cringley Predicts Apple is About to Create a Satellite-Based IoT Business

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Last summer Chinese market analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported the iPhone 13 would include satellite communication capability, remembers long-time tech pundit Robert Cringley, who adds that the prediction was denied by Apple. “This, in itself, was weird because Apple generally doesn’t react to rumors. But beyond the mere reaction, the way Apple responded to Ming’s prediction was especially odd.”

An unattributed leak from Cupertino said that the iPhone 13 definitely would not include satellite communication capability. And even if some iPhone could communicate with satellites, the leak continued, it wouldn’t be offering satellite voice service (which Ming had mentioned), limiting iPhones to satellite text or iMessage…. This was making less and less sense, but it clearly meant there was something happening.

Then came the iPhone 13 launch and Ming was wrong for a change — no satellite communications. So the Cupertino rumor mill went about its business, Ming’s satellite rumor apparently forgotten.

But not by me….
And this leads Cringley to another prediction of his own:
I am convinced an announcement will be coming soon. Apple will shortly enter the satellite business by acquiring GlobalStar and its 24 satellites. They will use those 24, plus 24 more satellites that Apple has already commissioned, to offer satellite service for iMessage and Apple’s Find My network just like they implied in their denial last year.

These apps are proxies for Apple entering — and then dominating — the Internet of Things (IoT) business. After all, iPhones will give them 1.6 billion points of presence for AirTag detection even on sailboats in the middle of the ocean — or on the South Pole.

IoT is already a big business that is going to get even bigger even faster because of Apple. Adding that satellite connection to iMessage and Find My offers the possibility of ubiquity for IoT, though only on Apple’s network. Ubiquity (being able to track anything in near real time anywhere on the planet) signals the maturity of IoT, turning it quickly into a $1 TRILLION business — in this case Apple’s $1 TRILLION business….

While Apple’s stated goals will be only iMessage and Find My, followed by IoT, in the longer run Cupertino plans to dis-intermediate the mobile carriers — becoming themselves a satellite-based global phone and data company. That will require shifting over additional Globalstar bandwidth plus launching another 300-600 satellites, so it is several years away but IS coming. Apple will compete not just with every other mobile carrier including Cupertino’s own customers, they will also compete with satellite Internet providers like Starlink, OneWeb, and Amazon’s Kuiper. Apple can compete with Starlink with so many fewer satellites because GlobalStar has vastly more licensed spectrum than does SpaceX, which has to reuse the same spectrum over and over again with thousands of satellites.

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