Is the Walled Garden Getting Worse?

by Raj Singh

Here is some food for thought:

1. In 2001, it was a lot easier to publish your mobile content such as a ringtone or wallpaper or your WAP application onto a carrier catalog. Today, only if your brand is Tier 1 such as Disney or you work through a publisher, will you even have a chance of being considered for a carrier catalog.

2. Only as far back as a year ago, when you were on a data plan, you could browse wherever you want. Today, more and more, you are seeing unlimited data plans required for full internet browsing and even then, there is still no guarantee you will be able to stream your mobile video - port blocking madness...

3. EU carriers are wondering why the US is beginning or has surpassed EU in mobile content revenue such as games or even ringbacks. EU has always been the more "open" market with off-deck content generating a majority of the revenue. Well maybe, now they are kicking themselves, realizing that to maximize carrier revenue, they need to move more people onto subscriptions and off of pre-paid and distribute the content on-deck maintaining absolute control.

4. In the last year, we've heard about 1800Free411 getting blocked and then Truphone for VoIP calls getting blocked. Since when has a voice call been regulated and doesn't unlimited data mean unlimited data?

The conclusion is the carriers have learned. Over the past 7 years selling and delivering mobile content, they know what works, they know what sells and they especially know what is profitable and what is not. For example, there is no arguing that video is by far less profitable than SMS for a carrier - $1.99 for a video ringtone, 15 cents for an SMS - 300K versus 1K in size, there is no comparison.

To be seen...


2007-06-20 20:38:55
I will join you in "doesn't unlimited data mean unlimited data?" call when it becomes equally fashionable to an equivalent call "doesn't unlimited calling mean unlimited calling" to VoIP providers.
Ash Dyer
2007-06-21 14:28:11
I feel you man. In 2002 I tried to publish a J2ME app with Nextel and they wanted $1.8k up front for QA testing to be followed with $900 for each additional test cycle should I not pass the first time. As a student at the time, there's no way I could afford it. Now, as you said, it's even more impossible to get into the stack.
But, I'm curious, what about off-deck Python app's for Symbian (since you can download an interpreter)? Also, what forces do you see on the horizon that may push carriers to allow more off-deck content?
Raj Singh
2007-06-22 10:50:44

Do you remember the class-action lawsuit against VZ for blocking Bluetooth - that was a PR nightmare for them. They def. don't want to promote a sense of a closed garden / world thus the transparent yet clever pricing approaches (ie you need to be on unlimited data to access the off-deck b/c we need to throttle our data usage) and/or SMS/MMS will cost the same but MMS has a data charge if you open the msg. Openess is inevitable - sideloading is a great example.