This morning's keynote at the CTIA wireless trade show featured a discussion moderated by The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, who's never minced words when it comes to expressing his displeasure with the way US mobile operators lock down handsets to outside content and services, referring to them as "Soviet ministries" for the way they stand as gatekeepers determining what services can reach their customers. He asked Verizon Wireless' COO, who was on the panel, why its ecosystem remained locked down, and why only those companies that set up some sort of commercial arrangement can reach the companies' users -- a contrast to the openness of the internet. The exec responded "it's called capitalism", inferring that the company was embracing the free market, whereas Mossberg is some sort of communist that wants everything to be free (that line of reasoning sounds sort of familiar). He then went on to explain that, despite the capitalism comment, Verizon keeps everything locked down because that if people downloaded a third-party application, or accessed an outside service, and it didn't work or they were unhappy, they'd call Verizon, not the third-party provider, and complain. So now they're concerned about the user experience? This doesn't make sense at all. Mobile operators are pretty notorious for failing to satisfy their customers, and furthermore, if Verizon was really interested in providing a better user experience, they'd tear down their walled garden and choose partners based on how well they serve users, rather than how much they can pay.
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