Sometimes the market giveth and the market taketh away.
On Monday, satellite stocks rocketed higher after reports said the Apple (ticker: AAPL) iPhone 13 would support space-based communications. But satellite stocks were giving back some of those gains Tuesday after the mobile communications industry dug deeper into Apple’s plans.
Globalstar (GSAT) stock is down 12% in early trading. Iridium Communications (IDRM) shares are off 7%. AST SpaceMobile stock is down almost 2%. The S&P 500 is down 0.2%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 0.1%.
It’s a reversal from Monday when Globalstar, Iridium Communications, and AST SpaceMobile shares rose 64%, 15%, and 12%, respectively. The gains came after TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a report, essentially, that iPhones might soon be able to leverage satellite networks to make calls and send messages. That would mean a lot of new business for satellite companies, such as Globalstar, that operate communication networks in low-earth orbit. What’s more, it would give Apple devices the ability to communicate without the need for terrestrial-based cellular carriers.
But multiple reports citing tech journalists such as PCMag’s Sascha Segan question that capability. According to the reports, it appears that the functionality of the Qualcomm (QCOM) modem the iPhone 13 appears to be using—along with the broadcast spectrum satellites use—makes the initial hope of satellite-based calling unlikely. It’s possible that Apple might be using a modified modem that would enable some features like emergency calling when cellular networks aren’t available, but not much more, the reports said.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday and wasn’t immediately available to comment on iPhone 13 and satellite connectivity Tuesday.
Even emergency services would be one step on the path to space based connectivity in a small form factor such as a smartphone. And the satellite stocks aren’t giving back all the gains from Monday. Apparently, the idea that Apple might use satellites is enough to boost valuations for some space stocks.
Space-based internet connectivity, of course, is possible. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has at least 100,000 subscribers to its space-based internet service. That service, however, requires a relatively large receiver—a little like a satellite dish for TV service.
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