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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

de facto standards in mobile?

I'm on the road this/next week, so posts will be short & a bit erratic I'm afraid....

Thought for today:

Over the past 30 years, what's been the cumulative value created in the technology industry, split by "de jure" agreed standards, and "de facto" proprietary ones? I reckon it's probably 50/50, when you include things like MS Windows, Cisco IOS, and assorted bits of IBM, DoCoMo, and other IPR.

The Internet has further strengthened this, with other de facto standards like Google for search, and Skype (arguably) for VoIP.

So... while we might not always like it, de facto standards work. Not always, and not perfectly, but they definitely create value & user benefit. Sure, alternatives might have been better - but they might also have taken 4 years longer to develop.

Now... mobile. As far as I can see, there's no way for de facto standards & solutions to evolveacross operators. There's no way for a Skype, or a YouTube, or a Hotmail or a Myspace to evolve, spanning 100's of millions of users internationally and spread virally.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Agreed that this is possible the most serious obstacle for mobile operators to succeed with innovative services.

Good showcase from the past is AOL, who is still struggling to transition from "Internet access provider with own services for own access subscribers" to "Internet service provider offering to anyone on the planet".

I can see one theoretical way out of this dilemma: operators would have to split off their internal service operators as fully independent businesses (possibly even de-merge).
Those service operators would then address all mobile subscribers (with or without MVNO-type of arrangements). "VF Live!" could be re-branded as "Live!" and "Vodafone" brand could refer to access service, for example.

Well, pretty theoretical scenario at this time. I am not sure what would need to happen that operators go that way, rather than continuing or restricting themselves to access operators (bit pipes).