by Carlo Longino

CTIA: Verizon COO Says Walled Garden About The User Experience, Not The Money

from the pshaw-right dept

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous of Course, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 3:19pm

    Re-inventing stupidity

    The walled garden worked well for AOL
    Oh, wait... AOL used to be one of the
    Three largest Internet providers and now
    they're in a tail spin.

    Maybe Verizon can profit from the lesson
    AOL has learned but I doubt it.

    This Verizon COO sounds like another
    pompous jackass who proves the Peter

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    anon cow, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 3:20pm

    that would be like M$ staying out the browser business because they don't want support calls when gmail doesn't work.

    at least make up a lie that makes a LITTLE sense

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    shawn mccollum, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 3:33pm

    this was longer with word set on fire, but alas all i really can say is, "true, true"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Pikey, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 3:43pm

    Can you buy a phone separately and then sign up with Verizon? If so, is this still an issue? Or are there network limitations as well?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Monarch, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 3:56pm


    Anon Cow,
    No it would be more like Verizon knowing from their ISP experience, people calling Verizon DSL Support complaining that Gmail is not working.
    Beleive me, I've worked in Technical Support for an ISP, I know the stupid calls!!! Especially back in the day of Windows95. For example, as you'd get this one at least once a day:
    "You're internet is broken, I clicked connect, it made a bunch of squealing noises and now the only thing on my screen, is a timer that says connected!"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    PHoney, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 5:02pm



    It's a network limitation so it doesn't matter what phone you use. With Sprint, Cingular and T-Mobile data services you can enter a URL or create a bookmark of your choice, not so with Verizon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 6:22pm

    Re: PHoney

    You said:
    > It's a network limitation so it doesn't matter what phone you use.
    And then you said:
    > With Sprint, Cingular and T-Mobile data services you can enter a URL or create a bookmark of your choice, not so with Verizon.

    So it does matter what phone you use. So there.

    Open the net, providers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Chris Maresca, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 6:26pm

    Re: Re:

    I had no idea. Sure am glad I'm not a Verizon customer and, with those policies, it's unlikely I would ever become one.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    etrik, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 6:49pm

    Re: Re: PHoney

    No, Mr.Coward, it matters what NETWORK you use. Get a clue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Adam_v1, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 6:55pm

    Verizon also makes sure all its phones have crippled bleutooth so you have to send any pictures you take with your phone over their network instead of say transfering them to your desktop.

    Verizon is dead set on controlling as much as they can about how their service can be used.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    syntax, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 7:27pm


    ...I am adding this comment from my verizon cell phone. I have yet to see a blocked site. also, I can transfer anything I want over usb, bluetooth and even email - all on my verizon phone.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Lonny Paul, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 7:36pm

    Then Buy an Unlocked Phone and Stop Bitching

    There are a myriad of CDMA and GSM devices available that will work across any network in the US and abroad. Although Verizon would like to tell you otherwise, pretty much any non-stolen, non-duplicate ESN cellular phone will work.

    In my previous life at http://ww.tigerdirect.com, I started obtaining and selling both CDMA and GSM devices. Verizon and Sprint would get mad all the time, but turn them on none the less. All with a single phone call and a 16 digit number. Not so shabby when we were offering consumers $39.99 and $49.99 refurb PDAs - this isn't something that applies only to new phones.

    They work. The cellphone companies get more in funding for the promotion of any phone from the manufacturers. Why would they stop since they are already hooked on the money drug?

    Lonny Paul


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    obilesk, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 7:38pm

    Re: wrong...

    And how much did it cost? just wondering...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Krum, Sep 13th, 2006 @ 8:24pm


    I've had no prblem installing and using 3rd party apps on my MDA. Skype works great and so does Slingbox for mobile. f something doesn't work, I don't call T-Mobile, I figure my device doesn't support it or I call for support from the 3rd Party. VZW seems to be saying their customers are stupid and have the same attitude as AOL with the limited portal idea. Mr. Treo fan should consider himself lucky. On Verizon's website it specifically states that most of their data devices have the BT Object Transfer (OBEX) crippled and I know this is true of my dad's pda he has with Verizon. As far as I know, no other American provider does this so I've no idea where VZW is going with this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 6:27am

    I have a Verizon VX6700 and a data plan. I can go to pretty much any website I want to visit, I can use Bluetooth, there really isn't much I can't do with it.

    I bought a program for instant messaging, as I didn't want to pay Verizon a nickel for every message I sent, which uses my data plan.

    There are a lot more things the phone will do, but I have to go in and change some of the Verizon settings. To get the data network to connect while on the phone, you have to make changes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Steve, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 6:39am

    Only being able to transfer pictures over there network and not my own is not about money? Disabling the phone to computer link is not about money? Disabling Bluetooth is not about money?

    This guy really takes the cake. Who is the guy trying to kid, it is about money. Innovation is being grind to a halt due to crap like this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    claire rand, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 7:42am

    Re: something rotten in the firmware.

    bizzare as it may seem its possible this is the phone. I (in the UK) have two mobiles, one for me and one for other other half, both with O2, both on the same contract. my k800i has no trouble taking a picture and bluetoothing it to my pc. the other half's samsung D_something_ however cannot. i can connect via blue tooth, but while the phone 'sees' files stored within it.. the pc sees an empty directory.

    i uploaded a few mp3's to both. the k800i works, well like a flash drive really. the samsung however.. the mp3 file appears in the file transfer window until that window is refreshed, at which point its gone.

    strangly anything uploaded to it appears to be 'locked' to that phone as well.

    I'd say this could be something in the phones firmware to prevent stuff being sent out.

    naturally i can send a picture from the phone via the network, just not over bluetooth, which is annoying.

    i think i can get at stuff via the wires that came with it and plugging directly, just not via bluetooth, (or I.R.)

    given two phones on the same network and tarrif act differently... well my finger points to the phones maker.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Xenohacker@hotmail.com, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 8:30am

    Honest Buisness

    I am in favor of honest buisness... a company provides good service for money... if their service sucks they do what is possible to fix it... honest buisness... Verizon is a corporate entity... they will never be honest... they can't be because they don't provide good services :-)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    roamer1, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 9:23am

    VZW arrogant as usual

    PHoney: when exactly did VZW take away the ability to enter URLs in WAP browsers? That must be very recent -- I had a V710 (dumped it and VZW over the BT crippling) and certainly could enter URLs.

    Lonny: Sprint will not allow phones not sold for use on their network (and Sprint doesn't consider MVNOs that use their network, such as Virgin Mobile, to be their network!) on their network, and never has. Same goes for a few other carriers, namely US Cellular and some of the "unlimited" carriers (Cricket/Metro/etc.) VZW and Alltel technically don't anymore either because of E911 requirements, but they don't enforce the rule with an iron fist like Sprint does.

    GSM carriers are not the angels some make them out to be; some T-Mobile phones have WAP settings locked down and won't run Java applets that didn't come from / aren't signed by T-Mobile.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Trip, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 11:40am

    It is Capitalism

    One has to appreciate that building networks cost money to build and maintain. Lots of it. Everyone wants fast speeds and a huge service area. These companies are building the very networks that enable the destruction of their traditional businesses.

    I don't find it surprising they are looking for ways to make up those profits by looking for a piece of the action for the services that run on their network. It is the most efficient path to innovation? No. Is it the best deal for the customer? No. But it does finance the continued build-out of converged networks for which there seems to be a lot of end user demand.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    monkeyPox, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 1:25pm

    Re: wrong...

    Get bitPIM, it'll let you copy picture files & sound files from your Verizon phone to your computer. Works via Bluetooth too.

    Solutions are out there for most problems with Verizon phones. www.bitpim.org and www.howardforums.com are two of my favories for finding answers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Deathwish, Dec 2nd, 2006 @ 7:30am


    Okay so Im signing up with Verizon because my family has a plan so I'd rather get on that than have to pay for my plan monthly... I'm wondering if I purchase the O2 Atom XDA Exec (GSM Triband Phone) - will it work on the Verizon network without any extra charges? I know they wont activate me with that phone but if I use it after I get my service and put my sim in, will it work? Thanks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Phatman, Mar 26th, 2007 @ 11:34pm

    Verizon blocks specific content only

    I work at a large commercial digital audio site (www.AudioSparx.com). There's a mobile version of the site also at AudioSparx.net. Verizon permits clients to fully surf the site and do everything *except* actually download an MP3 or other audio file. When Verizon clients get to the specific point on the mobile site where the ringtone is to download to their phone, they consistently get a 406 error at that point and only at that point. Verizon blocks the audio file download. No other carriers in the U.S. do that. Come on Verizon....wake the hell up and focus on providing mobile billing services to the content providers of the world. You'll make a lot more money and your clients will be a lot happier. As it is now, your clients spend quite a bit of time searching and finding just the right ringtones they want external from the Verizon site, then work through it all to get to the point to where they can download the ringtone, then YOU BLOCK THEM AT THE LAST STEP!! Of course they are going to call you then, but not because our service does not work but because you are blocking it, effectively making it not work for them!! America....time to boycott Verizon Wireless until they open up!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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