Open source in a closed market

Wireless is truly a "pay to play" market. The bribes were made in the open, through spectrum auctions. Your spectrum goes to the highest bidder, your government pockets the cash, and your market is thus controlled by a chosen few.

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In a truly open market the battle to set new mobile standards would be fairly clear.

It's not, because this is not an open market.

In an open market we could await the Microsoft Zune phone, a host of Android kit, whatever LiMo and Symbian decide to come up with, along with RIM and Blackberry devices running on the networks of our choice.

In an open market this would sort itself out in Internet time. Equipment makers might mix-and-match features among the various open source offerings.

I personally don't think closed source would stand much of a chance in the long run, although I would enjoy being proven wrong

But the mobile market is a cartel, a very small one.

The U.S. has only two real national competitors -- AT&T and Verizon. Sprint and T-Mobile are so far back their market shares can barely be seen.

AT&T says it's cutting the number of products it lets on its network. Verizon isn't saying that only because the AT&T-iPhone deal is exclusive.

If Verizon had a clear competitor to the iPhone it would likely close up like AT&T. Before the iPhone it bragged about how it controlled every bit of software on its wireless network and got a cut on every bit it passed.

Google's efforts to create a competing network through Clearwire are moving slowly. Analysts remain highly skeptical.

Wireless is truly a "pay to play" market. The bribes were made in the open, through spectrum auctions. Your spectrum goes to the highest bidder, your government pockets the cash, and your market is thus controlled by a chosen few.

It may not be fashionable to say this, especially from one often accused of being a liberal, but competition is the solution to many of our economic problems.

Including this one.

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