Mon, Mar 30th 2009 11:16pm
One issue that's constantly popping up these days is friction between distributors and content or service providers. Companies on either side of the equation often overvalue their contribution, whether it's movie studios thinking they have the leverage over Netflix, or ISPs thinking they've got the upper hand over the likes of Google when it comes to net neutrality because they "control" the pipe. The content or services are worthless without the distribution; without the content, the distribution is worthless. It's not the case where one side always has the power, and often over time, the balance of power shifts. Such is the case with the news that Vodafone UK has enabled Twitter SMS services for its customers. Twitter irritated some of its international users last year when it stopped sending them SMS updates because of the costs. It's a pretty typical story in mobile: if you have a service you want to offer to users via SMS, you've got to be prepared to pony up the cash to mobile operators to reach "their" customers. When Twitter was a nascent service used by web dorks and media types, somebody like Vodafone wouldn't care about it. But as the service has gone mainstream, suddenly it behooves Vodafone to strike a deal with Twitter, make the costs workable, and be able to offer the service to its customers. The mobile industry has long engaged in these stupid battles over who "owns" the customer. Typically, the operator's take has been that they own the pipe, so they own the customer. But maybe they're finally figuring out that without any compelling services to travel through it, the pipe's not such a big deal.
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