February 14, 2006
3GSM World of Anti Internet
Well, it is the third day coming up in Barcelona of 3GSM World. I am attending with Theta Networks, we are a vendor at the conference. 961 vendors in attendance, and every major mobile operator in the world... If you looked at the revenue for every company in attendance, it must basically equal the size of the entire world wide mobile industry, literally trillions of dollars, don't know the actual size. All funneling into this place, producing mountains of hype activity and: A MASSIVE WALLED GARDEN.
The real philosophy of this place (GSM World) and the the mobile industry, the ideal vision, and the reality of the actual business, is built on exclusion, proprietaryness, and lack of openness. You could look at pretty much everything that has made the internet successfull like open standards, low cost, incredible scalability, focus on content, massive participation from individual users to huge corporations, and reverse every one of those principals and you have the dream vision for most vendors at GSM World. Mobile Operators want to own access. They want to tell the user what they can and can't do. They'd love full access to modify and control even your own phone, a new trend called mobile device management. They certainly want you to pay for every page, and charge you extra for every application, and rely on meager content partners to produce unusable and expensive applications. When I say "they", I mean just about everybody at 3GSM who is in business. Every model relies on control, proprietary standards.
There is a reason for this model and philosophy, and the walled garden business model is responsible for the massive effort and innovation that has been necessary to roll out the existing wireless and wireless data networks. It has worked so far. We have our voice, we have data and its getting faster and faster.
But whats next? We certainly don't have many usefull data applications in the mobile world, and the lame, proprietary and exclusively expensive crap at 3GSM can never compete with the openness of the internet model for producing content that people actually want. I can only hope it is the future seen by a couple of tiny internet companies (Google, EBay)sponsoring FON could help. Pretty funny to call them tiny but what else can you say compared to the entire mobile industry? I'd hope that the wireless industry gets to pure IP devices, and allowing calls and everything else via an unrestricted internet model, from WiFi spots or Mobile operators providing high speed data. But it is risky, FON is already running into problems.
And if you don't believe me that the Mobile Phone industry is completely out if it related to the internet, besides maybe Nokia, here is some hard evidence about GSM World:
- No free WiFi access, instead it costs 75 EUROS A DAY. No free access for sponsors either, like us who paid 5000 pounds, and Nokia, who probably paid 5 million.
- NO INTERNET ACCESS at all. Except for a couple of scraggly cables out of the wall in a shared cube space, and if some larger sponsor takes pity on you with a meager branded hotspot.
- I'm writing this on a dial up connection from Pablo's appartment in Barcelona
- Its pretty much impossible for business travelers such as myself to get a good high speed internet connection from the phone companies using UMTS or other 3G cards. I don´t have a plan in Europe, and can´t buy a card for a few days, and nobody is even selling cards, making it literally impossible.
Jeers to 3GSM World and poor internet access.