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IPhone -Apple in Rumored Talks to Purchase iCall for VoIP Expertise

December 14, 2009

Apple in Rumored Talks to Purchase iCall for VoIP Expertise

By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor
Is it better for Apple (News - Alert) to own its own VoIP technology company rather than continue to rely on strategic partnerships with cellular carriers? The company may think so as it is rumored to be in talks to purchase VoIP business “iCall.” Macnn reported Friday the deal could possibly be pending.

iCall offers a Windows client and a limited Web client, as well as VoIP services through an iPhone (News - Alert) app. According to inside sources, Apple and iCall are in talks to work on a deal estimated to be worth between $50 and $60 million.

Arlo Gilbert, iCall CEO, refused to confirm or deny the talks and industry experts are somewhat baffled as to why Apple would even be interested in iCall. Certain cellular carriers might balk at the idea of an alternative to iPhone plans. Then again, Apple could simply be taking the proactive approach to gain ground over the competition or to future-proof its technology.

Apple has already been in the process of beefing up its offerings, having recently confirmed the acquisition of Lala, a music streaming service on the Web. While this purchase makes sense in terms of Apple’s approach to the market, it could also be taking advantage of recession-era pricing on strong portfolios.

According to a post on 9to5 Mac, the rumored purchase makes sense. Google (News - Alert) is working to build a VoIP phone that will operate with Google voice and the phone would have the capability to move freely among networks without being tied to one particular carriers’ phone system or e-mail.

To help keep Google at bay in terms of market domination, Apple will need to build up its own “phone” that can utilize VoIP service. Without the technology already in place internally, the company will need to look for outside VoIP expertise. This purchase makes sense – as long as you are not an Apple carrier partner.

The Business Insider was quick to point out that this acquisition is sure not to sit well with Apple’s carrier partner, who happen to sell the majority of Apple’s iPhones. This group also currently drives the majority of their revenue by selling voice phone service. Of course, what is good for them is not necessarily good for Apple in the long run.

One thing that Apple does very well is anticipate the market and build up its internal strength to capitalize on these opportunities. The company can also build up those strategic partnerships it needs to continue to dominate the market, so it is still unclear as to weather or not it has plans to keep the carrier partnerships in place. Only time will tell exactly what the company has up its sleeve; but for all iPhone customers, it is likely to be good.

Apple made headlines recently as its iTunes app store approval process is getting easier, catering to the frustrations of developers. With this latest rumored move by the industry giant, it is likely to get some feathers rumpled, while others hungrily await the impending opportunities.

For more on this recent iCall development, check out Rich Tehrani’s (News - Alert) most recent blog.

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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