Now that Apple is a wireless connectivity company, they're getting "friends" they don't need
Let me get this out of the way: I am not a rabid Apple fan nor detractor, and I donít own any of their products, for no particular reason. And I do admire much of the good work they have done, both in design and in creating new markets.
But I am starting to feel sorry for them, and even worry a little. No, it's not because of the iPhone dropped-call/RF/antenna issue. Instead, it's this: as Apple has morphed from a "computer" company into a connectivity and wireless company, by necessity they've gotten involved with so many more regulatory agencies in the US and worldwide. This involvement goes far beyond basic EMI/RFI, safety, and frequency-allocation assignment.
For me, it is factors such as the latest "jailbreaking" ruling, see here, for example. I know Apple likes to run a tight ship in terms of what they allow, opening up their system, and related factors. To me, that's a strategic choice they make. As a potential customer, you know about those factors before you buy into their world, and if you donít like it, you donít have to buy the product. (Whether it's a good idea or not to be so tight and controlling is a good subject for a lively debate, but not relevant to my concerns.)
In addition, Apple now has to deal with the equivalent of the FCC in all the countries it intends to serve, and this goes far beyond basic channel assignment and spectrum usage; it goes to what services are offered at what levels, to whom, and how, the terms and conditions of service, and more.
So now Apple has all these "friends" who will help define their product, its functions, and its marketing Many of these friends are unaccountable bureaucrats who are absolutely convinced that they know what's best. Sometimes they do, and sometime they don't, but we'll never know, that's for sure.
I do know that the ability to take chances, and even fail, has been one of the key attributes of the IC and larger electronic industry. Along with this ability has been the flexibility of vendors to balance and trade-off among their product's many technical and non-technical parameters: features, costs, product extensions, upgrades, partners, and add-ons, to cite just a few. Sometimes companies lose out, sometimes even their customers lose out (hey, Microsoft just dropped their "Kin" line of phones, after a mere 48 days on the market!). So it goes.
But when "well intentioned" bureaucrats and agencies, who answer to no one, start helping you with your product, this sort of risk-taking becomes secondary to keeping them happy, and trying to be almost everything to everyone. Certainly some market segments have lived with this situation already: medical instrumentation, for example, is tightly regulated. But even for medical equipment, it's been mostly about safety and effectiveness, rather than what features to add in, or what access you have to allow the user.
[An aside: this scenario of legislating what you must offer, and to whom, is being played out in Massachusetts on a smaller scale, via the so-called "Right to Repair" bill now in the state legislature. It would require that auto companies make their proprietary repair codes and instrumentation available to independent repair shops, for a fee. The auto companies say they want to restrict it to their dealers who have (in theory) had special training and a long-term commitment; independent shops say it is merely a ploy to cut them out of the repair business. Both sides of this case have good points.]
That's why I worry about the brave new world that our industry is both driving and dependent on, exemplified by Apple's situation: you get a lot of baggage and barnacles coming along for the ride, and they can not only slow you down, but they may radically change your way of thinking and innovating. ?