The Vodafone UK Debacle

by Raj Singh

If you are not aware, Vodafone UK recently decided to remove the User-Agent field from the mobile browser headers. This means a web developer can't tell if the user browsing to their mobile site is coming from a mobile device or from the PC. In my opinion, shared by many others, this will have many adverse effects on all companies that rely on delivering customized content to each user's device.

Vodafone has done this to maintain the walled garden, essentially take control. They are maintaining a whitelist of partners where they will deliver the mobile optimized site; this means if you are not on the white-list, then your site will go through the Vodafone transcoder and likely render much uglier than your mobile optimized site.

However, Vodafone UK is allowing startups to apply to the whitelist program but this of course means that your service is subject to Vodafone, meaning an off-deck mobile content download site would probably be rejected.

I'm hoping this doesn't perpetuate to other operators; this is the walled-garden at its worst.


2007-09-25 12:35:59
This, of course, will prevent users buying ringtones or videos from many competing mobile sites. Anti-competitive maybe?
Gavin Terrill
2007-09-26 09:11:11
More walled garden mentality.

The path to enlightenment (and profit) for telcos will begin when they realize they are actually not in the content business and start to focus on the bandwidth problem.