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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Apple cuts off MVNO rumors

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

In a statement apparently issued to CNBC, Apple is denying the recent reports that it will launch its own cell service:

“We have not discussed nor do we have any plans to launch [a mobile virtual network],” said an Apple spokeswoman in a statement on Tuesday.

On the face of it, seems like that’s that, right? Perhaps I’m reading a bit much into it, but a few things strike me as odd here. Let’s go from least significant to most significant.

Firstly, while an unattributed statement is hardly noteworthy, especially from Apple, this would have carried a bit more weight with me if there were a name attached to it. Apple’s very careful about that, and having the vague “spokeswoman” on this in some ways makes it a little more deniable.

Secondly, if the CNBC quote is accurate, Apple specifically said it’s not planning an “MVNO.” Which leaves them a little wiggle room, especially if they later on do launch something–”Oh this? This isn’t an MVNO. It’s a deal we struck with wireless carriers to let us overlay some of our own services. Totally different.”

Thirdly, and most importantly: why address this at all? There are hundreds of Apple rumors floating around on any given day, and Apple generally doesn’t deign to address 99.9 percent of them. So why this one? A couple possibilities, perhaps the most likely of which is not wanting to spook its existing partners? Granted, if they are somehow negotiating with the carriers for the use of their existing infrastructure, this wouldn’t exactly be news to them.

Also, keep in mind the venue: CNBC. That’s aimed at the financial markets, primarily, and if you look at the news today, there are several stories floating around out there about the company’s stock decline, including at CNBC. Apple doesn’t always concern itself with the stock market, but perhaps it wanted to insert something into the news cycle to combat that.

Still, like I said at the top, weird. I’m not convinced this means what it suggests on the surface, but, well, I may also be grasping at straws because I want to see what an Apple cell network would look like.

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is now available for pre-order.]

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