John Guidon, the CEO of Row 44, is a big Apple fan, he tells
me, and would love to be talking to Cupertino about the iPhone problem. He’s
responding to my
blog entry last night, when I wrote that
I hope that Guidon is talking to Apple: he says that passengers can surf
the web on their iPhones – but it seems that they’ll only be allowed
to do so, under current regulations, if Apple allows users to turn off the
cellular capability while still using the wifi functionality. At the moment,
that’s not possible.
The way I see it, the problem is one of economics, not technology. Apple is
very keen that people not use the iPhone as a video iPod with wifi
capabilities – a competitor, if you will, to the Nokia
N800. The reason is that Apple is getting paid a lot of money by AT&T
put the total at somewhere in the $300 per phone range, over the course of two
years. And AT&T isn’t going to want to pay Apple lots of money if the devices
aren’t used as phones.
But the problem should not be insurmountable, all the same. Apple can still
require iPhone buyers to enter into a 2-year contract with Apple, at a minimum
cost of $60 per month, before the unit works at all. Once they’ve done that,
they should be able to turn off the cellphone capabilities of their phone when
they’re airborne – or when they’re roaming
internationally. Or just when they want to be able to surf the web without
necessarily being contactable by anybody with their cellphone number.