The iPhone's shortcomings have been a boon to Telstra, the telco's outgoing public policy chief Phil Burgess claimed in his last Australian speech yesterday.
Telstra's Phil Burgess
"One of the best things that has happened to us at Telstra is the iPhone because people think, hah, I want to get an iPhone. Well, how do I get video calls on it? Well, you can't do video calls on it," he said during the speech to the Lowy Institute.
"How can I get 33 channels of live TV on it?" he continued, referring to services available on other devices on Telstra's Next G network. "Well you can't get 33 channels of live TV. I can't? Well, I thought the iPhone was the best in the world. Well it isn't. It's the best in the United States. The United States is a third-world country when it comes to wireless."
Despite the fact that Telstra is one of the vendors offering the gadget in Australia, Burgess further dug his boot into the device because of its limitations.
"It has embedded code that makes it hard to import material from outside the walled garden of Apple. That's the way they operate," he said.
Australia led the world in mobile, Burgess told the gathering, which he said meant that expectant users bit enthusiastically into their Apple iPhone, only to discover a sour taste.
On other topics, however, the executive didn't look at Australia in such a kind light. He railed against Australian policy of putting big companies on a leash, keeping them as big fish in a small pond instead of allowing them to grow and attack global giants, such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, which he considered to be Telstra's true competitors.
"Our biggest competitor is not Optus. Our major competitor is Google. Our major competitor is Yahoo. Our major competitors are people like Microsoft," he said.
Our biggest competitor is not Optus. Our major competitor is Google.
By holding companies like Telstra back, Australia was stopping them from finding suitable partners to succeed in the global economy, Burgess said. "Pretty soon, the world's passed it by and all the good partners have already checked off their dance card. It's stupid," he said. "And then all of a sudden you wake up some day and half the people in your neighbourhood have Google for wireless."
Whether Australia was overrun by Google or not, Burgess professed that he had grown to admire and care for the sunburned country in his 38-month tenure.
He valued Australian ideas such as "mateship" and the "fair go", although he wasn't a fan of the "she'll be right" concept, which he considered had brought a certain apathy to injustices such as the awarding of the OPEL contract.
He praised Australia's economic management, social stability with so many cultures and strategic economic positioning within Asia.
However, he felt Australians scored a fail on their faith in "regulators and policy wonks", the amount of power and place in the media awarded to bureaucrats, and the use of ideas such as "future-proofing". He said he would rather be bullet-proof, fireproof, or most of all foolproof.
His last piece of advice was that Australian business should not get too cosy with government.