So Google stoked the bogus ‘net neutrality’ scare (directly writing legislation for the European Parliament, in one instance) which handicapped the network operators' ability to monetize their network fairly (by say launching a VoD service) ensuring that Google’s own private network (exempt from neutrality rules) becomes more valuable. Neutrality was the Global Warming scare of network world. ManBearPig may not exist, but it's amazing what you can get legislated if enough people think it does.
Google has ceaselessly lobbied for spectrum reform, too. In both cases it’s used sockpuppet groups such as ‘FreePress’ and PublicKnowledge, and its hand-picked academic network, typically legal departments with large debts to the Chocolate Factory.
When you went into partnership with the Loompas – were you feeling lucky?
Winners and Losers
In terms of who loses and benefits I offer this short list to get you started - you can complete the rest. The first couple are easy to fill in. The first comes from the executive who offered me the autism perspective. He also reminded me that it’s less than two weeks since 'the sermon' by Jonathan Rosenberg. Remind me, what’s open about Google now?
Another casualty for the same reasons, is surely the Open Handset Alliance itself. It’s odd to read how:
Each member of the Open Handset Alliance is strongly committed to greater openness in the mobile ecosystem. Increased openness will enable everyone in our industry to innovate more rapidly and respond better to consumers' demands.
‘Innovating in the open’ now means ‘getting ready to shaft you behind closed doors’.
As for the winners, Apple suddenly doesn’t look so bad. Operators hate being told what kind of subsidy they may offer, and chafe at the control freakery. But at least the iPhone is a surefire hit, it drags in the punters. None of Google’s models – either demiphones or Superphones – have shown they can. And Apple’s terms are much less onerous than a year ago.
Nokia and Symbian should be beneficiaries, but for operators Symbian is too much of Nokia’s pet project. Handset manufacturers have spent a decade getting out of Symbian projects and for many this is the last time they’ll do so. Also thanks to Nokia’s neglect, nothing Symbian now has to offer is competitive with the iPhone. It isn’t up to date.
One of the most puzzling tech business stories of the last ten years is how Nokia surrendered its smartphone lead and reacted like a rabbit in the headlights when the game changed. Nokia talks about ‘democratising’ the smartphone, simply because it’s own models are cheaper and ship in higher volume than the market leaders, who pocket the profits. Well, the Trabant democratised travel in the GDR, providing mobility to non-party members. It’s not a good analogy to make.
I expect to see more interest in the operators’ own hobbyhorse, the Limo Foundation, which is a Linux stack backed by the big networks plus Samsung – although anybody can sign up to make a Limo phone. It was fear of Google that propelled Vodafone to use Limo for the 360 phone so heavily promoted over Xmas. And while Limo does not provide iPhone or Pre-quality slickness, networks may see it as a low risk investment. No danger of Nokia or Google pulling a fast one.
Right now only RIM and Apple are making money from this mobile data caper, and the operators delude themselves if they think they do more than come out evens. They’ll fancy their chances even less now that Nexus has reminded everybody that Google sees Networks and ODMs as a temporary (and disposable) part of the equation.®