Is an era of open-ness in mobile upon us?

In a good sign for the mobile eco-system T-Mobile is planning to open an app platform for all their phones. This is good news because mobile apps have historically been a graveyard for entrepreneurs and investors and like the Apple App Store the T-Mobile open app platform takes out one of the big breaks on innovation – the operators.

Hopefully we will see similar initiatives from other operators and then I’m sure someone will find a way to integrate the different app stores to create an effective single market.

I picked up the link to the T-Mobile story from a post by Umair last week entitled What Apple Knows that Facebook Doesn’t. There is a lot of good stuff behind this link but I particularly liked this:

Apple took something terminally closed – the mobile value chain -and pried it radically open. Facebook – still thinking in yesterday’s terms – took something radically open – the www – and is trying to make it a little bit more closed.

For all Apple’s history of closedness it is just possible they will end up unleashing a wave of competition in the mobile industry which is based on how open people can be. IMHO that would make the mobile world look a lot more like the PC world and unlock a lot of value.

By contrast, Facebook looks less likely to have a strong long term value play – looked at through this lens at least.

  • It’s been obvious for a while now that operators should focus on search and discovery on their portals and push everything else down the value chain to developers, media companies etc. imode in Japan followed this model years ago – basically it was just a directory of third party sites. However, we will have see if T-Mobile manage to produce a decent open app store within the next 18 months but the track record suggests not…

  • It’s been obvious for a while now that operators should focus on search and discovery on their portals and push everything else down the value chain to developers, media companies etc. imode in Japan followed this model years ago – basically it was just a directory of third party sites. However, we will have see if T-Mobile manage to produce a decent open app store within the next 18 months but the track record suggests not…

  • I think it was probably Google that inspired all this movement towards an open app platform with Android: http://code.google.com/android/ Apple probably realised that they had to open up their platform or risk loosing customers when Android handsets come on the market in the near future.

  • I think it was probably Google that inspired all this movement towards an open app platform with Android: http://code.google.com/android/ Apple probably realised that they had to open up their platform or risk loosing customers when Android handsets come on the market in the near future.

  • Dino Joannides

    Google Android Open ? Apple iPhone Open ? I think relatively closed is a better description.

  • Dino Joannides

    Google Android Open ? Apple iPhone Open ? I think relatively closed is a better description.

  • nic

    Hi Dino – tks for all the comments, and listening to some Piano as I right.

    To your last point – Google Android and Apple iPhone are big advances in open-ness from the current situation in mobile. Not much compared to open source and where the PC is today admittedly, but a step forward for mobile.

  • nic

    Hi Dino – tks for all the comments, and listening to some Piano as I right.

    To your last point – Google Android and Apple iPhone are big advances in open-ness from the current situation in mobile. Not much compared to open source and where the PC is today admittedly, but a step forward for mobile.

  • Dino Joannides

    Nic in what way is Android or iPhone more open than Symbian or Microsoft Mobile 5/6 Pocket PC Phone Edition & Smartphone OS ?

    Lets see what happens with Android Market Store but what is new in terms of the iPhone is that initially Mobile Operators were prepared to share some voice/data revenues with Apple and allow Apple to deliver apps via App Store – however in terms of the former since the launch of the 3G version the old subsidised device model is back and Apple is focused on bigger volume targets.

    In terms of the iPhone yes you can download and SDK and develop tightly controlled apps for the closed OS that Apple uses on the device ! The lack of support for Flash for instance is a clear example of a closed proprietry approach.

    You could argue that what has actually happened is that Apple has simply added another OS to the Smartphone mobile device segment increasing fragmentation. Granted both the Apple OS and Android are likely to move down to the mass market in due course as will Symbian Foundation.

  • Dino Joannides

    Nic in what way is Android or iPhone more open than Symbian or Microsoft Mobile 5/6 Pocket PC Phone Edition & Smartphone OS ?

    Lets see what happens with Android Market Store but what is new in terms of the iPhone is that initially Mobile Operators were prepared to share some voice/data revenues with Apple and allow Apple to deliver apps via App Store – however in terms of the former since the launch of the 3G version the old subsidised device model is back and Apple is focused on bigger volume targets.

    In terms of the iPhone yes you can download and SDK and develop tightly controlled apps for the closed OS that Apple uses on the device ! The lack of support for Flash for instance is a clear example of a closed proprietry approach.

    You could argue that what has actually happened is that Apple has simply added another OS to the Smartphone mobile device segment increasing fragmentation. Granted both the Apple OS and Android are likely to move down to the mass market in due course as will Symbian Foundation.

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