Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mobility battlescape - the war for controlling your handset

With mobility becoming a commodity, how's a service provider or a phone vendor to differentiate itself ?

In recent years there has been an ongoing battle between the carriers, content providers and the phone vendors to gain access to the valuable real-estate in the palm of your hand.

They've all taken different approaches to gain access to the consumer.
Nokia recently opened two flagship stores in New York and Chicago so that it could control what features the consumers got on the phone - a plan that was probably triggered by Cingular disabling the WiFi connectivity on some of the Nokia phones it sold as part of its service plans.

Apple is opening up the iPhone platform for third-party developers and there is a legion of third-party application developers who are providing phone-independent Value Added Services.
Skype has launched a mobile service that does not depend on the carriers, there are services like Fring that can bypass the carriers toll service to make wireless VoIP calls and applications like Dashwire to manage your phone.

Mobile service providers who have traditionally controlled the network, the phones and the content on the phones and are probably as loved as second-hand car dealers and telemarketers, have been facing a lot of flak from users, vendors and regulators about the control they wield. The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg demanded "Free my phone !"

It's going to be an interesting battle to determine who will be the dominant player in the new marketplace. Stay tuned.

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