Lovely, beardy Walt Mossberg – whom I know many of you consider to be a figurative uncle – unleashes a barnstormer of a piece today that turns the unpleasantly bright light of truth onto the Machiavellian US cellphone carriers. Walt, frustrated by the lack of network openness and tight stranglehold on the mobile market, calls for government intervention to force AT&T, Verizon and the rest to not only play nice with the consumer but to cooperate with third-party suppliers of software and hardware that, traditionally, have had great problems getting their products seen by the consumer.
Video of the Vandyke Vixen after the cut…
To be fair, there’s nothing in the article that most tech-savvy people haven’t known and lamented already – after all, inflexible carriers aren’t a new conundrum – but if there’s to be any sort of change enacted then it’ll take high-profile commentators such as Mossberg to draw attention to the situation.
Based in the UK myself, it’s always interesting to speak to US residents and see their surprise when faced with the knowledge that, outside of America, mobile phone users don’t pay for incoming calls or text messages, can swap SIM cards between handsets (that, increasingly, are supplied unlocked or can be unlocked via easily accessible services) and have fewer “carrier customisations”, normally shorthand for crippled features. That’s not to say that networks here have everything right – certainly not, in fact – but it’s ignorance of other markets that allows US carriers to continue with their status quo.
Walt points to the potential upheaval should Google decide to flex its credit card at the 700MHz wireless spectrum auction next January; you can find out more about Google’s plans over at our sister site, www.Google-Phone.com
Walt Mossberg: Free My iPhone [Investor Village]