Verizon Wireless Responds To Competitive Pressures By Promising To Open Its Network
from the good-news dept
That appears to be happening surprisingly quickly. Back in February, Carlo noted that Verizon Wireless was the last hold-out for the old "walled garden" approach, with the other carriers having already taken steps to open their networks. Two recent announcements—Apple's iPhone and Google's Android—likely spurred Verizon Wireless to follow suit. The iPhone is far from an open device, but it is a clear example of what can be accomplished if a technology company is given the flexibility to design a mobile computer without having to kowtow to wireless carriers' whims. The success of the iPhone has put pressure on the other carriers to come up with a competitive response, and building a device as compelling as the iPhone almost requires that technologists be given a free hand in making design decisions Sprint and T-Mobile's support for Google's relatively open Android operating system strengthened the impression that Verizon Wireless was the last hold-out for the walled garden approach.
Today's announcement is a smart business decision for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the way to succeed in high-tech industries is to be the platform that other companies use to build their products and services. If Verizon follows through on its promises and opens up its network, it will dramatically reduce the time and frustration required to get a new device approved for use on Verizon's network. That will make it the logical partner for innovative small companies seeking to launch a new mobile device, service, or software product. It will also make Verizon Wireless an attractive partner for firms wanting to make non-phone mobile devices. This announcement also takes the wind out of the sails of advocates for government-mandated open networks. Verizon Wireless doubtless prefers to open its network on its own terms and its own schedule, instead of having its hand forced by government regulators.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered: most importantly, how much the bandwidth will cost. If it sets the price too high, it will be hard for Verizon Wireless' partners to make a profit. Additionally, we won't know until we see the exact terms how open their "open" network really will be. It wouldn't be the first time a technology company started using the word "open" to describe fundamentally non-open products. But if the terms and price turn out to be reasonable this announcement should provide a big boost to innovation in the wireless space in the coming years.