A nice thought by former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée, but not gonna happen.
But as a carrier, Apple would have to worry about things like upgrading networks, getting local governments to approve towers, even more customer service, etc. It would be a huge distraction from the core business: selling devices.
Apple buying one network in one country is an unreasonable proposition, moreso if they were going after multiple networks around the world. They could be a disruptive service across all carriers without having to do this. How?
My nutty prediction, in horrible tech blog parlance: the next iPhone will be an iPod touch killer and a carrier killer of sorts, on steroids. Apple will offer a “universal” iPhone that will be completely unlocked and available to use on almost every carrier on the planet. I’ll go one step in the nuttier direction by saying it’ll be 4G compatible. I mean, hell, they waited this long to release the next iPhone. Let us assume they figured out the proper power management for 4G use and standby.
I have no doubt Apple could do that, but I don’t think they will. Bypassing the carriers means selling unsubsidized phones. They sold a bunch of the original iPhones without subsidies, but they’ve sold a hell of a lot more by making people think they’re paying $200.