The iPhone has revolutionised the mobile web, senior mobile executives agree, and heightened activity in terms of WiMax deployment may offer even more opportunities for Apple ahead.

Peter Cannistra, VP-strategic partnerships for WiMax, Sprint, Nextel, told Digital Hollywood that the iPhone is ““a great first mover; it’ll be improved on and imitated and really will be the catalyst for a lot of devices in the future.”

Cannistra was speaking as part of an experts panel at Digital Hollywood. He shared his space with Michael Ball, account lead, Interpublic Emerging Media Lab; David Shim, Sybase 365 VP-product management and strategy; Larry Berkin, senior director; Access Systems; Brian Johnson, executive chairman, mBlox; and Lee Hancock, CEO, go2.

Others on the panel agreed the iPhone would generate a wave of copy-cat phones, but suggested the future of mobiles will include larger touch screens and the evolution of a truly mobile internet, with iPhone imitators embracing Google’s Android platform for future evolutions.

Mobility requires appropriate networks, and Cannistra is in a top pole position in the new combined Sprint Nextel and Clearwire $12 billion WiMax venture. Nextel and Clearwire are preparing to launch a nationwide WiMax network across the US, offering both traditional voice services as well wireless broadband access using WiMax.

ABI Research analyst Nadine Manjaro said the deal “would be really huge for WiMax”. Why? Because it means enormous capital investment in deploying a US-wide platform for the standard, promising broadband-like internet access speeds even in relatively depopulated areas.

The news is just the latest in a string of recent WiMax-related announcements, as deployments of the standard begin to emerge internationally. Northern Italy, Fiji, Russia, Ireland, and countries across Asia already have major deployments planned, with WiMax networks expected to reach 25 per cent of the population of Malaysia by year’s end.

Sure, but you know what we’re thinking: We know it’s a long shot at this stage of deployment, but with huge investments being made WiMax network deployments across the globe, it’s clear the network ops behind these deployments are eager to find a killer app or device to propel consumer and enterprise users to embrace the new standard. Does Apple have a part to play?


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