Mobile providers -- Wake Up!
I recently sent around to my internal O'Reilly editors mailing list a pointer to Dan Gillmor's column Smart Phones Making More Sense. In the column, Dan wrote: "Orange, a unit of France Telecom, is one of several companies around the
world now selling devices that begin to validate the notion of the
overpromised and, to date, underdelivered 'smart phone' ..."
Oct. 20, 2003 08:39 PM
Brian Jepson wrote a great reply:
I think Brian is right on about the data rates, but his initial comments are even more telling. The cell phone providers need to adopt the "small pieces loosely joined" design philosophy of open source software and the Internet. That will will allow independent developers and enterprising power users the ability to put existing pieces together to deliver new and exciting services. When all the innovation has to happen within a closed framework managed by the cell provider, it will take a lot longer before we get to the smart phone promised land.
"Thanks for sending this on; I think this is a great example of the future
not being evenly distributed. Most, if not all, of the pieces are in place
on phones like my Nokia 3650 and some cellular providers' services to do
the sorts of things described; why couldn't I send an SMS containing the
name of a movie I'm interested in and get an MMS back with a 30-second
clip of that movie? No reason I couldn't; the phone is capable of it.
Someone could make a business around this and charge 75 cents a pop.
Along the same lines, why couldn't I visit my carrier's WAP site, select
Local Info, and then select Movies? It's almost there, but I have to type
in my zip code, and after a pile of menus, I just get movie descriptions.
But the technology is there on both the T-Mobile network (unlimited data,
possibility of correlating location to a rough zip code) and the phone (10
seconds of video @ 176x144 is just about 100k).
Within a year or less, we'll probably see data rates on the GPRS networks
going up from 30kbps to 70kbps or more; Sprint and Verizon already have
this on their CDMA networks, so we go from roughly 30 seconds of download
time per 10 seconds of viewing time to pretty much 1:1.
The real barrier is companies who price the data through the roof;
T-Mobile gets it ($9.99 unlimited on your handset, $19.99 if you use your
phone as a modem) and so does Sprint ($15 unlimited on your handset). But
Verizon and AT&T Wireless still want $80 a month, which is a real turnoff
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