Someone over at Verizon Wireless seems very confused about who the company's customers are. Of course, it's unfair to pick on just them, since almost all of the mobile carriers are thinking the same way, but it was the VP at Verizon Wireless who made a series of bizarre, short-sighted and flat-out wrong comments to the Associated Press that should have him looking for a new line of work. The AP piece starts out as a rehash of last week's story saying that the carriers have forced Motorola to shelve the iTunes phone for the time being. Then it shifts the story over to Verizon Wireless' decision to cripple Bluetooth on its phones to stop people from transferring content directly from their phones to PCs (or other phones) and require them to use their cellular connection (which, oh yeah, costs money). Verizon Wireless tries to defend the practice by claiming the entertainment industry made them do it. The quote comes from Jim Straight, vice president for wireless data and Internet services at Verizon Wireless, saying: "When it comes to the cell phone I have to abide by the rules of the content houses." No, actually, he doesn't. The content houses don't own the carriers. There's simply no reason why the makers of a communications platform should be crippling their devices to protect an obsolete broadcast business model. People are not buying mobile phones to get the latest Disney movie or hit song. They're buying them to communicate. If the big content companies don't want to play, it's their loss. People will continue to buy up mobile phones and communicate with them. No one's dying to have access to broadcast content on their phones. The content industry shouldn't be setting the rules here, and there's no reason why the carriers should be deferring to them.
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