Forbes report that Apple is filing some patents that will enable innovative applications, such as ordering a Starbucks coffee from a mobile phone to bypass the customer line. Some months ago, Apple and Starbucks launched a Wifi Music Store, so that iPhone users could press a button when at Starbucks and download a song to enjoy their latte.
Starbucks in iPhone keynote, in January 2007
While these might not be killing apps – you need to queue anyway to collect your coffee-, it shows that Apple does not need the Wireless Operator to bring new apps over their networks. Apple only counts on Operators as mere IP pipes.
All this is transparent to us consumers, and even beneficial as the variety of mobile applications increases. Nonetheless it is a major threat for Wireless Operators as they lose control and revenue from Data Services.
Do not forget that the latest entrant in mobile phones, Google, is offering 10 m$ prize for 3rd-party developers that bring best apps on Android.