Ljunggren believes Apple's decision not to support LTE with the iPhone 4S will open the door to competitors

Apple is losing influence over the telecommunications industry, according to a senior exec at Swedish operator TeliaSonera.

Tommy Ljunggren, SVP and head of system development for mobility services at the operator, told Telecoms.com that, due to its decision not to embrace LTE and a recent apparent slowdown in its pace of innovation, Apple’s importance to the market is now the subject of much debate within the industry.

“If you asked me two years ago I would have said Apple would be very important. But now it will be a bad mistake not to include LTE in the iPhone 5 as otherwise they will really be run over by the others,” he said.

He added that competitors are quickly catching up with Apple, and that the company’s supremacy in the handset space is coming into question. Rivals Google and RIM have been busy in recent days, both announcing new operating systems. Google recently unveiled its Android 4.0 mobile OS on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset, while RIM announced its BBX mobile platform; a hybrid of the BlackBerry platform and its QNX operating system for handsets and tablets.

Apple, meanwhile, launched the iPhone 4S this month, which despite selling four million units in the first three days of launch, received a lukewarm reception from critics, who were expecting a new device built from the ground up; an ‘iPhone 5’ that would support LTE. The launch did herald the latest update to the iOS platform however, which is dubbed iOS 5.

“[Apple] are not unique enough and there is disappointment over the 4S – it was too small step for them,” said Ljunggren.

“So I don’t think Apple will decide if LTE will fly or not. My expectation is that in 2013/14 we will really see low-end smartphones having LTE as well. The big question is what frequency bands they will put in for smartphones.

Ljunggren also admitted that there are no LTE enabled smartphones currently supported by TeliaSonera, and said that he expects that to change early 2012. He added that when the operator begins to support LTE handsets, “they will be true LTE smartphones – not the ones that the US has right now with two radios.”

“These drain the batteries flat very quickly as they have one LTE terminal for data and a CDMA voice terminal. It’s basically a dongle and phone that they glue together. They work – just not for long!”

Ljunggren said that we will eventually see “mature” LTE smartphones and tablets but that the volumes will likely not be there for a number of years.

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  • Surprised that in one sentence he says apple should have come out with an LTE phone and then the next, that the current LTE phones are poor excuses for phones. Possibly, when the industry comes to a standard and LTE is launched in a significant area of the world, Apple will once again deliver a ground breaking phone that empowers consumers to change how operators deliver services.

    Reply to kurt on TeliaSonera exec questions Apple’s supremacy
  • Not supporting LTE would be a really bad decision if consumers actually cared about LTE.

    The operators love talking about their new advanced networks. Consumers just want a smartphone where they can post pictures of their cat on Facebook and watch youtube videos of double rainbows.

    Reply to Niklas A on TeliaSonera exec questions Apple’s supremacy
  • Looks like Tommy nailed all the dots but couldn’t quite connect them all. With all the hype and fluff on 4G and LTE, it makes sense for Apple to hold its fire for at least a year. There is also good sense in evolving software and hardware asynchronously. And, why should Apple join the rush to the low end when they are a premium vendor – so they can end up like Nokia?

    Reply to Ken Hoyt on TeliaSonera exec questions Apple’s supremacy
  • 4G hype? Seriously? I guess 10-12 down and 3-4 up is hype? If so, I will take this hype all day long. I am actually GLAD Apple didn’t introduce LTE because I am loving the speeds and am not looking forward to the day that I see my performance crushed by the influx of LTE-native iOS devices from the masses. Glad to be an informed Android user from where I stand today.

    Reply to Rob on TeliaSonera exec questions Apple’s supremacy
  • We can all see the disappointment in the 4S. Record sales is, however, an unusual way to show disappointment. The rest of his statement seems to back up why Apple did not go LTE. It is not yet stable. Also one of the biggest sources of dissatisfaction with cell phones is battery life. Apple is all about better battery life and thus gets very high user satisfaction.

    Reply to Al on TeliaSonera exec questions Apple’s supremacy
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