Verizon's Walled Garden Grows, But Isn't Opening

The WSJ has an article talking about how Verizon Wireless is giving more third-party mobile content providers access to its subscribers by signing individual deals with them, which allows them to sell their content to Verizon users in exchange for it taking a cut of around 30%. While there’s some talk that this represents Verizon slowly opening its walled garden, is that really the case? Adding more sites and content providers to a garden seems like a far cry from actually opening it up. The walled garden is a pointless exercise that’s bound to fail. There are so many internet services that users would like to be able to access from their mobile phones, and that’s only going to grow. However, if access to those services is dependent on operators being able to come to some sort of commercial arrangement with each one, it’s not going to work. No matter how good operators’ lawyers are, they’re not going to be able to keep up with the pace of innovation on the internet. Offering users access to just a selected subset of services — specifically, those that have decided to pay up — isn’t going to work. Operators need to focus on building open systems that deliver users the services they want, regardless of who creates them, and focus on adding value where they’re best placed to do so: by improving usability and integrating internet services with their mobile services.


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