Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Closed Ecosystems Will Die: Shouldn't Someone Let the Cell Phone Companies Know?

oponia has some great applications that could be applied to mobile devices. But we haven't put it on our immediate radar for a number of reasons the least of which is articulated really well in David Cohen's Blog posting about his start-up failure iContact.

Given David's experiences, it doesn't surprise me to read about YouTube's deal with Verizon which was criticized as lame on Fred Wilson's blog.

I put the issue to Vanessa just earlier this week to investigate further with her developer community at large to see what type of issues people ran into when developing software for mobile devices. The responses back were pretty consistent. They included:

- This is indeed nasty ground
- One buddy of mine pines quite angrily about dealing with many of these carriers that got to great lengths to stop you from using their networks and the ability to install 3rd party software
- Some carriers may not provide access without first doing a deal (i.e. "when hell freezes over"

Where Vanessa netted out for now was "sounds like a crap shoot and will be a painful process (well ok, that not exactly how she put it but you get the drift).

While we aren't giving up on wireless applications yet, it is a bloody shame that the cell phone makers and carriers don't make this an easier process.

Some lessons from ecology - closed ecosystems at best have slow growth and in the worst case, they die.


Mark said...

This comes back to creating an understanding of what business you're really in. The cell phone companies throughout North America are in the handset and accessories business. If I had to guess, I would surmise that it's because they all came out of a hardware-oriented business (i.e., phone companies). I remember talking to the exec marketing veep of a major cellular carrier who explained, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to move "units," holding up the then latest and greatest from Nokia, (or was it Sony-Ericsson? Perhaps Moto...). Compare that mentality to that of the European and Japanese carriers who have a very different conception of their nominally-the-same business. The business psychology behind NTT Docomo, for example, is significantly different than "let's deliver TV via cell phone because it will encourage people to replace their old handset." Our domestic carriers live in a very different ecosystem than the one that you might conceive - one that includes a middenheap for last year's toy.

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