Apple’s Emergency SOS via satellite service in the US and Canada for its new iPhone 14 models sets stage for showdown with operators and others planning similar offers, says GlobalData.
“The smartphone race to space is on, but it’s unclear how competition in this new service segment will shake out. There is an influx of actual and proposed satellite-to-cellular messaging services, which have obviously been in development but are now being deemed ripe for market,” Tammy Parker, Principal Analyst at GlobalData, said.
The Apple-GlobalStar service will be limited to users of new iOS devices who need to communicate with first responders.
U.S wireless carrier T-Mobile and SpaceX say their forthcoming text messaging service will support most phones already on the T-Mobile network as well as those to come — meaning both Android phones and iPhones will be able to access the service.
Efforts to monetize these services will impact which customers actually use them. Apple’s service will be free for the first two years, but no pricing guidance was offered beyond that. T-Mobile has indicated it will include its satellite-based emergency service at no extra charge in its higher-tier plans.
New market entrants will further muddy the competitive waters.
Huawei this week unveiled its Mate 50 smartphone, which provides satellite-based messaging and location routing via China’s BeiDou satellite system.
Google is working to enable direct satellite connections for upcoming Android phones. US-based Lynk and AST SpaceMobile are partnering with various cellular operators to offer space-based communications services direct to phones.
OneWeb has partnered with AT&T to provide the carrier with satellite-based backhaul services.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper has a similar agreement with Verizon.
Elon Musk in a tweet said that his company SpaceX had promising talks with Apple over using Starlink’s satellite services to underpin the iPhone 14’s emergency SOS feature.
Apple has selected satellite services firm Globalstar as its partner to power the feature that helps users sends emergency messages from remote locations.
Apple has also dedicated $450 million from its advanced manufacturing fund toward satellite infrastructure to support the service.