In a perfect world, Jobs wanted the iPhone to run 100% under his terms. That would mean not having to choose AT&T as an exclusive telco partner. It would mean seeding the idea of a phone that could run on an unlicensed network in the same way that we use WiFi. Walk in the heart of the metro and you’ll see converging wireless hotspots. You can practically survive without GSM. And that was what Steve wanted to bring to the picture – a phone that didn’t make use of any of the telcos. Of course, he scrapped the idea owing much to the paradigm of big telcos being … well.. too big.
Would creating a phone under an unlicensed spectrum make sense? How would it fare? How would it have compared to merely selling the phone under no contract? If it’s anything about Steve, the man wanted to do things differently: call it his longing to control his products or a sincere effort to decentralize the tech industry, we will never know.
If Apple was a telco, it wouldn’t make sense. Branching out into building devices to run on an open / unlicensed spectrum would have been too risky. So Steve did exactly what he was good at, creating the public demand for an amazing device and dictating to AT&T the terms and conditions. In some way, he changed the paradigm of telcos.
In retrospect, if we look at the iPod touch — the “un-iPhone” it now looks as if Steve had grand plans for a WiFi only device seeing how people would behave by consuming data through a series of WiFi networks. And perhaps this is where we may see future progress.