Apple Shuts Down Walkie-Talkie Tech

Apple had been testing a new system by which users could text “off the grid” by using transmission in the 900 MHz range. However, the company has announced that it’s decided to shelve the technology. The 900 MHz band is typically used for short-range wireless transmissions for dispatchers in a variety of industries. The tech was slated to be integrated into Intel chips. Dubbed Project OGRS (pronounces ‘ogres’) internally, the technology was likely to utilize an Apple patent for Off-Grid Radio Service (OGRS).

Shifting Partnerships Dissolved Tech’s Future

Apple’s development of the project was curtailed in part because the internal champion for the project, Rubén Caballero, left Apple earlier this year. Additionally, the tech giant switched allegiances from Intel to Qualcomm for their upcoming series of handsets. Apple also gave Qualcomm their nod for providing the modems for their devices as well. The turnaround by Apple was such a significant blow to Intel that it wound up selling its smartphone modem division, with Apple buying it for $1 billion.

Innovation Curtailed

The OGRS system could have been a boon to Apple, and while the technology is currently shelved, it’s unclear whether the tech giant intends to renew its development in the coming years. The Apple OGRS system isn’t the first or only method for using a walkie-talkie with a phone, however. Some phone manufacturers have included push-to-talk with their handsets for years now, utilizing low-frequency transmission bands to send voice data over short distances. Apple’s history of being slow to innovate may come back to haunt them in the future.

Apple has a vested interest in staying ahead of the competition and are various steps the company could take to bring about this innovation. Still, with its latest earnings report showing an increase in revenue of 1% from a year ago, the future seems bright for the company despite its unwillingness to out-innovate its competitors. Technologies like Apple’s walkie-talkie OGRS system seem like novelties designed for a market that already adores their brand rather than any real attempt at innovation.