A rumour from the blog Phone Arena comes first. In order to compete with Apple and Huawei, Samsung also intends to add satellite communication capabilities to its Galaxy phones, according to leaker Ricciolo.
But this isn’t the first time we’ve heard a rumour involving satellites and phone suppliers. In June, the headline said, “Cringley Predicts Apple is About to Create a Satellite-Based IoT Business.” Robert X. Cringely, a seasoned tech commentator, projected that Apple would launch with some limited satellite-based capabilities.
Nevertheless, he also referred to those services as “proxies for Apple’s joining—and ultimately controlling—the Internet of Things (IoT) sector.” After all, even on sailboats in the middle of the ocean or on the South Pole, iPhones will provide them with 1.6 billion places of presence for AirTag identification. In this example, Apple’s one trillion dollar business, iniquitousness (the ability to track anything in almost real-time anywhere on the earth), demonstrates the maturity of the IoT. Further, “Cupertino wants to dis-intermediate the mobile carriers in the long run by creating a satellite-based global phone and data company [and] they will also compete with satellite Internet providers like Starlink, OneWeb, and Amazon’s Kuiper.”
So how did Cringely feel when Apple unveiled “Emergency SOS” messaging for the iPhone 14 and 14 Plus—via communication satellites—when its users were outside of a mobile signal range last week? He began by questioning whether Apple was purposefully exaggerating the satellite features:
They sort of stated that it would only be for iPhone 14s and that it would be free for the first two years. They also limited their usage case to emergency SOS SMS in the USA and Canada. They displayed a satellite app and made a concerted effort to make it appear challenging to use. They made no mention of industry partners or technical information.
Yet there were clues to what was to come. For instance, we previously knew that ANY iPhone can be made to work with Globalstar (you and I, based on my prior column). We also knew the agreement was with Globalstar, which Apple omitted from the conversation but which Globalstar essentially confirmed later that day in an SEC filing. However, Apple did bring up Find My and Air Tags, particularly stating that they would still function through satellites without the need for an app to first beg the sky for help. The software is therefore less useful than it first appears to be, and Apple’s satellite network will soon find usage for the Internet of Things. [Cringingly forecasts]
Regarding Find My and Air Tags’ global reach, Apple explicitly made no mention of it. Given that the notification system is completely contained within Apple’s ecosystem and is not dependent on 911-type public safety agreements, there is no reason why those services cannot have rapid global satellite support.
Maybe it will take a couple of years for SOS to be available everywhere, but not for Find My, which means not for IoT, a sector that is rapidly approaching one trillion dollars and will consequently [hypothetically] have an immediate impact on Apple’s financial position.
Further speculating, Cringely forecasts that Globalstar, which already owns substantial amounts of licensed spectrum, will eventually be acquired by a bigger business. “If not Elon Musk, then perhaps Apple.”
Cringely makes yet another prediction as a result of this. If Musk Elon is unsuccessful in obtaining Globalstar, he and his partners will strive for the successful regulatory expansion of terrestrial 5G licenses into space.
This will happen whether SpaceX and T-Mobile are successful or not. The International Telecommunication Union will eventually give in to commercial pressure, so there WILL someday be satellite competition for Apple.
By the end, Cringely is also making predictions about how Apple will create novel new satellite designs more quickly.