Of OpenGardens, Walled Gardens, Coffee, Fax machines, Ostriches, Dodos and User generated content

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Of OpenGardens, Walled Gardens, Coffee, Fax machines, Ostriches, Dodos and User generated content

(I like that title :) )

Opengardens 2.0?

When I spoke at the European parliament last week, after the talk, I mentioned that: with a blog called OpenGardens – you would expect me to speak about opening up the walled gardens, Open systems etc etc

While I am best known for my second book Mobile Web 2.0, I co-authored a book before called ‘OpenGardens’ (which is now also the name of my personal blog i.e. this blog)

When I first wrote OpenGardens, the industry was a very different place. In just a few years, things have changed dramatically. Its not just the most obvious changes – such as Operators like Hutchinson 3G doing a total U turn – its all about the direction things are heading and the accelerated pace of change we are about to witness

The debate between OpenGardens and walled gardens is accelerating – especially in the world of user generated content.

Every time you drink a cup of coffee, think about this: Do we want to model the industry on coffee or on the fax machine?

A cup of coffee is a personalised, unique consumption experience. It does not matter who else drinks coffee as long as the cup of coffee I consume – is perfect for me. In this scenario, to create that perfect cup of coffee, someone needs to manage the whole process and provide the superior experience.

We are happy to let that happen.

And to pay a premium for that experience – just ask Starbucks if you don’t believe that!

But then you have a fax machine ..

It absolutely matters how interoperable the fax machines are .. In addition, no one needs to manage that experience for us .. As long as we can connect to people ..

The experience itself is in ‘connecting to people’

Think of that when you have a cup of coffee ..

Currently our industry is all about coffee .. But really it’s all about fax machines in the minds of our customers ..

More so as we enter a user generated content world .. After all, user generated content is about communication. It needs interoperability.

That means no walled gardens simply because our customers want to communicate!

I have two motivations in reviving the OpenGardens debate in this series of posts ..

a) I intend to open up the book OpenGardens i.e. there will be a print version but all the content will be freely available online

b) The debate has moved on a lot since we last addressed it – and the pace of change is accelerating as I discuss below

The problem

From a customer standpoint, there are two problems

a) Interoperability and

b) Service discovery

By extension, developers also face the same problems. Thus the walled gardens debate is much more than ‘on deck – off deck’(or on portal/off portal – in Europe) – it is a wider interoperability debate. Indeed, the biggest successes we have seen so far are from applications that are cross Operator. For instance: admob and screentonic , each of whom have a billion ad impressions per month

Note that: the content consumption industry will always exist. Yes, there will be some elements of personalization and some context we could add to content. But primarily, I would argue that it is not ‘our’ industry. It rightly belongs to the Warners and the Disneys of the world.

Times they are a changing ..

But things are changing ..

There are two related changes :

a) The network is becoming dumb and

b) Power is flowing to the device – because devices can access more than one network type – and are at the edge of the network.

And the third change is the launch of the iPhone.

In a post iPhone era, people will simply not accept an inferior user experience(WAP/XHTML) – and the excuses that ‘That’s all we can do on the phone’. Increasingly, we will see richer and better interfaces which customers are willing to pay for .. leaving behind those who continue to insist on the old style interfaces

Much of my thinking is driven by these two core principles. To me, it follows that for an application to be successful, it must be cross Operator.

Apart from some enlightened operators opening up, providing fixed rate tariffs etc .. (and may their tribe increase!) ..

There are four key ways to bypass operators

a) At the application level, encourage Open source, unify the Web and the Mobile web. Distribute applications over the Web. This is where Ajax and widgets come in.

b) At the network level, encourage devices that support multiple network types(Wifi,Wimax etc). Make the network agnostic(and hence communications seamless and Open gardens). Ensure that the Carterphone and net neutrality principles are applied.

c) Discovery: Application discovery and distribution should be over the Web.

d) Billing : Bill via the Web.

I seek thoughts on this

Much more coming soon .. including the carterphone principle , Net neutrality, legislation, Mobile Widgets, IMS etc etc

Finally, in popular mythology, the Ostrich is famous for hiding its head in the sand at the first sign of danger . Even as the iPhone is almost upon us and customer expectations are going to change forever, we see a lot of Ostrich like behaviour amongst many players in the industry today.

The risk is .. we end up not like the Ostrich but like another VERY rare Mauritian bird

Image: wikipedia

Of OpenGardens, Walled Gardens, Tim Wu, Net Neutrality, Carterfone and IMS

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Probably my longest article on this blog. I am preparing a pdf version as well!

Introduction

As many of you know Columbia University Professor Tim Wu has written a fascinating article called: Wireless Net Neutrality: Cellular Carterfone on Mobile Networks . If you have not read it already, I very much recommend that you do!

With a blog called ‘OpenGardens’, this topic is clearly of deep interest to me.

However, after reading the article, I have mixed views. The paper does a great job of highlighting the issues we face today, but I also believe that it mistaken on many other issues – and I find my selves taking a stance which is much more neutral.

This article outlines my thoughts on this document.

All comments welcome to ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com.

Particularly, I welcome feedback from Operators – since many in Europe I know are thinking of Opening up the network in some way.

Synopsis of my thinking• Tim Wu’s document does a great job of highlighting the issues. It does an excellent job about raising consumer awareness and I truly hope it drives some thinking at Government and at Operator levels.

• The USA is clearly losing out due to the practises highlighted in the document. However, these practises are not a global trend. Even within the USA, there is a range of behaviour exhibited by Operators. Legislation may not be the only option here – and indeed may not be the best option.

• The whole document is primarily based on the application of Carterfone principle to the Mobile Operators. I believe that the Carterphone principle can be applied to voice but not to data unless certain other conditions are fulfilled first – which I explain below. Thus, it is not a simple case of applying the Carterphone principle to the Mobile Network Operator as is implied

• Oddly enough, the document does not talk of IMS . IMS is a huge buzzword in the industry and addresses the very same issues that are outlined here. I discuss some implications of IMS below.

• In fact, if IMS were to be considered, Skype would be one of the ‘walled gardens’ (since it does not use the SIP protocol – which means it is not Open).

• It is ironic that the Carterphone principle (opening up the Mobile network as envisaged in the document), would benefit the two closest walled gardens – Skype and iPhone. (My previous caveats about applying the Carterphone principle to voice apply in this case)

• The issues highlighted are not ONLY due to the Operator in all cases. For instance, for Mobile Video, the government is an important player(and cause) of the delay in deployment.

• The document does not address net neutrality as I understand it. Thus, net neutrality seems to be a keyword designed to gain some emotional currency

• I totally agree on the discussions about Disclosure. There may be a case for legislation in this sector only i.e. enforcing greater disclosure

• Cooperation and not competition is the key!! In that sense, unless America does some fundamental rethink, it may well lose out in the end because of it’s culture of competing vs. collaborating

My core belief (and potential solution to the issues outlined by Tim) is :

In a consumption driven world, competition is the driving force. In a creation driven world(User generated content, Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0 etc), cooperation is the driving force. For reasons I explain below, we have no choice but to accept a diverse ecosystem in the West and legislation is not a good option. Instead, we should look at cooperation and try to identify the dimensions of the stack where we can get critical mass.

Analysis

Verizon: Firstly, let us acknowledge that Verizon is an exception. Much of what they do will be severely limiting in a Web 2.0/Social networking world – simply because Version customers will want to interact with other people (and not just other Verizon customers). Like AOL, Verizon will find out that it can’t maintain a walled garden for ever. Now, having got the issue of Verizon out of the way, let us look at a wider picture

Skype and iPhone: The irony here is – Opening up the network in this way, would benefit two of the closest gardens : i.e. Skype and iPhone

No IMS?: Surprisingly, Tim Wu’s document does not mention IMS at all. This is strange, since IMS is such a huge buzzword in the industry today. IMS also plays directly on the net neutrality issue in the sense either you can view it as a walled garden (at the packet level) or you can consider the disruptive potential of naked SIP (SIP sans IMS). Or, like I do, think that IMS has some unique and powerful features and depending on how IMS is implemented – this can be truly beneficial to the industry.

In any case, what you can’t do is – ignore IMS!

SIP and Skype : If IMS were to be included, Skype does not look that good – because it does not follow an open protocol(SIP).

The Carterfone principle: The whole document is primarily based on the application of Carterfone principle to the Mobile Operators. In my view, The Carterphone principle can be applied to voice but not to data unless the Operator creates APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) first. Carterfone without APIs is practically useless.

We can illustrate this by considering the example of Visual voicemail in iPhones. As a consumer, I love the idea of Visual voicemail. That’s EXACTLY what I want .. I hate trawling through old voicemail(and worse still – remembering keys to go next voicemail etc etc!). So, it’s fantastic to have visual voicemail .. BUT guess what? Supporting visual voicemail implies that the two (device and Carrier) are intimately in bed! Else, it is not possible to provide such a service(because the voicemail is stored on the network and not the device) .

Thus, in a Voice scenario, Carterfone may work – but in a data scenario it will not because to make a useful service(like Visual voicemail), the device needs the network to be abstracted(i.e. API enabled).

Tim Wu’s document misses this critical point.

An API enabled Mobile Operator actually is a very powerful proposition – something which I have been speaking of for some time as in Mobile web 20: Re-engineering the digital ecosystem with converged digital processes in a Post IMS/Quad play world and in The Long tail and Mobile Web 2.0

Thus, it’s certainly not a case of directly applying the Carterfone principle (i.e. Plug and Play) to Mobile Data scenarios.

Carterfone, APIs and Pipes: Note that in the above API enabled scenario, the Operator is still the hub(and not the dumb pipe). The Operator still retains leverage in this situation by managing the APIs

The iPhone : Tim says: >>> Most importantly, to the surprise of many, the iPhone only works on the network of a single carrier, AT&T Wireless. The hundreds of millions of consumers who are not AT&T Wireless customers cannot make use of the iPhone unless they become AT&T customers. The question is, why? Why can’t you just buy a cell phone and use it on any network, like a normal phone? <<<

No No No .. I was not surprised. See my longish post saying ..

The iPhone is extraordinary not because of it’s UI but because it’s the tail wagging the dog ..( But the real question is: How many dogs can it wag?)

In fact, as I said before, the iPhone CANNOT work with multiple Operators with ease because it needs to be in bed with the Operator to give that unique user experience. The client alone cannot deliver that user experience and I use the case of Visual voicemail to indicate why

Locked phones? In light of the above, locked phones are not such a big issue.

Qualcomm/ BREW : One must also not ignore the role of Qualcomm/BREW in this – i.e. Qualcomm by definition leads to a certain ecosystem biased towards a walled garden at all levels(network, apps and so on). Outside that scenario, the Mobile world is a lot more open place.

Mobile TV and Video: Mobile TV and Video is hobbled not by the Operators – but due to a range of other factors(including broadcast spectrum allocations in Europe). Thus, it’s a much more complex issue – with standards wars at technology/broadcast level – not a pure Operator scenario

Developers: When the article talks of developers, the implicit assumption in the document is : you need to be on the carrier portal/deck. However, Operators were never good at marketing mobile applications. In other words, even if you did end up on the deck, it may not translate to sales(excluding simple content such as games etc).

The Operator Portal also degrades the brand of the content/application owner. They are not the destination site. If they were strong or innovative enough, they would not want to be eclipsed by the Operator’s brand and instead would want to promote their own brand. Clearly, the off portal market in the USA is not mature (and this is the real problem i.e. short codes need to be viable and interoperable). In the UK, companies like Yell Mobile , which have good content, are primarily taking the off portal route rather than the Operator route.

Thus, if the service is compelling enough, I would not recommend the Portal route. As a corollary, I think the off portal market in the US needs to improve. That’s a real issue

WAP vs. Full browsers : Yes, WAP was a crippled version of the Web. That’s true. But, in the early days (low bandwidth, low CPU etc), was there an option? i.e. could we have really been able to run full web browsers on mobile devices? Today, as we increasingly see the uptake of full web browsers on Mobile devices from companies such as Nokia and Opera, these vendors are redefining the landscape(and I include Widgets amongst browser technology). This will lead to applications that span the Web and the Mobile Web using technologies like Mobile Ajax, Mobile Widgets and WICD () – making long tail applications possible.

Openmoko : Openmoko has been on my radar. It is interesting. Time will tell. It still needs a network though and I am not sure how that works.

Net neutrality: Defining net neutrality primarily in terms of terms of the Carterphone principle sounds limiting to me?

The mobile network is different and the Mobile network operator is not anonymous : Mobile network operator is not anonymous. In fact they are a (longish!) phone call away. But accessible none the less. Which means – they can be sued. I don’t think this fact can be ignored. For instance, if you get Spam on the Web, there is not a lot you can do. However, if you get Spam on the Mobile web – who do you call? Your Operator. In practise, this fact cant be ignored.

The security risks are also higher due to the personal nature of the device. For example, a child may be using a PC(which may be also be used by an adult). But in case of the child’s phone, it is always being used by the child – hence more risk.

The point of these arguments is: there are genuine reasons to be cautious.

Why change and why now?

In the last few years since I have been tracking this space, why is the idea of opening up Telecoms networks suddenly of interest?

Here is the reason in my view.

Telecoms is a mature industry. Voice revenues still drive a lot of the business. Data revenues are small, indeed non existent. However, Voice revenues are under threat from VOIP – and that’s a universal phenomenon – on both fixed and mobile networks. (albeit on mobile networks today, it is still mainly voice over WiFi).

Also, in most places in the West, the markets are saturated. Thus, growth prospects for voice alone are limited. In contrast to the Web companies, especially with the uptake of Web 2.0, Telecoms is not an attractive investment proposition in light of the (lack of) future growth.

Hence, witness the interest in Fixed to Mobile convergence (fixed operators trying to poach customers from mobile operators and vice versa) and acquisitions in fast growing markets like India. And also an interest in Mobile data for the same reason.

Hence, market forces will drive the change in many part of the world. Other factors also help. Better devices, mature networks, better browser technology etc.

Case for Government intervention?

Tim Wu’s article concludes: “At some point, I think Americans are going to put their foot down and say, ‘We won’t tolerate this anymore.’”

That’s true

The real question is: What could be done and should the government intervene?

In fact, a government mandated environment leading to fantastic rates of growth and innovation does exist today. It’s in South Korea where the Ministry of Information and Communication (South Korea) or MIC Korea plays the overseer role.

But is that the best way? Is that the optimal path in the West?

Think about this, Korea and Japan have made great strides internally but have struggled (and will continue to struggle in my view) to export their Mobile/communications services globally. That’s the dark side of government mandated standards – high internal growth – low global growth.

Thus, excessive government intervention is the wrong thing in my view.

See my blog Should you be thinking of Vegas on your next flight to Tokyo or Seoul? .

Speaking of Governments, ours(UK) did intervene in the dot com boom and reaped a windfall through the 3G spectrum auctions . By saddling the Operators with debt, I believe the British government squashed a golden opportunity for British companies to take a lead in the Wireless space. We definitely don’t want more of that – Thank You!

The Web itself is not exactly free of monopolies. Take the case of Microsoft. However, with my Randian / free market view, I would oppose any regulation on a company like Microsoft. After all, if customers truly hated it, they could change(nothing prevents them from making that choice – much as the same with leaving a specific Operator). With Google applications , that may well happen – but the changes will be market driven and not regulatory.

The search for disruptive elements

The problem with the Mobile industry is: It’s still very arrogant. We talk of concepts like Mobile Youth – but the IPTV industry does not talk of ‘IPTV Youth’ or the fixed line industry of ‘Fixed line youth’.

Once we accept that there are only ‘people’ and they want to communicate irrespective of transport mechanisms – then we have to ask ourselves the question : Where can we get critical mass?

In my view, no single Operator can gain critical mass because the Operator’s subscriber base is fragmented along many dimensions, for instance devices, Pre pay-Post Pay etc.

So, disruptive elements can arise if we unify the stack across Operators along some dimension

At the application level, I believe that Web technologies will do this (especially full web browsers, widgets etc). At a network level, the combination of devices and WiFi/WiMax is the key.

These will happen organically – and we will always have to get used to working in a diverse ecosystem.

Co-operation as a solution

To recap, I believe that :

In a consumption driven world, competition is the driving force. In a creation driven world(User generated content, Web 2.0, Mobile Web 2.0 ), cooperation is the driving force. For reasons I explain previously, we have no choice but to accept a diverse ecosystem in the West and sweeping legislation is not a good option.

In that sense, unless America does some fundamental rethink, it may well lose out in the end because of it’s culture of competing vs. collaborating. In contrast, the European / GSM approach is more collaborative and suited for future growth

To conclude

1) We will continue to live in a diverse ecosystem and that is good

2) Operators will end up with Open APIs and that’s not a Pipe.

3) As we go from a consumption driven ecosystem to a creation driven ecosystem, cooperation will be a driving force and not competition. The need to communicate will overcome outdated business models.

4) Market forces are the main drivers to opening up in Europe(the need to show growth to the investment community for example)

5) In my view, government regulation is the wrong step(except in cases like Disclosure). A combination of Web enabled devices, devices supporting WiFi etc will drive disruptive applications.

PS: In an ironic twist, the March 26 issue of Business week’s best performers – has Google in the top spot. But guess who is on No 7? Yes, Verizon communications!. It indicates to me, that if customers want to leave a service, they will – but they don’t at the moment because they are primarily consuming content.

However, I believe that the future will belong to those Operators who open up because the creation driven ecosystem will demand that (in contrast to the current consumption driven ecosystem)

Image source: Image shack

http://img145.imageshack.us/img145/5388/internet3yc.gif

A note on comments:

I have been having a lot of problems with Spam. Hence, comments are disabled. Please email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com and I shall be happy to post your comments

The future is bright .. The future is 3 ..

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Meg Whitman, who runs eBay, calls 3′s X-Series a “key milestone” in the development of the internet.

Until now, says Niklas Zennstrom, the chief executive and co-founder of Skype, “we thought 3G was not real broadband, but it has now arrived”.

“Moving to flat rate charging is the key to unlocking the value of the mobile internet,” says Miles Flint, the president of Sony Ericsson.

(Source for all three quotes above: BBC)

They are all referring to the announcement by Hutchison 3 announcing a fixed rate pricing and an OpenGardens strategy

Many other respected bloggers like Dean Bubley and David Cushman also concur that it is this is the single most significant digital development in recent times

I agree .. Here are my views on why that’s the case ..

Having written a book called OpenGardens and then Mobile Web 2.0 , 3’ s walled gardens represented the ultimate manifestation of all that is wrong in our industry.

For more than a year now, I have had two phones: A Vodafone Blackberry and a ‘3’ Nokia phone. The ‘3’ phone was mainly for voice(they have some of the best voice plans).

I also wanted to experience first hand, what it felt like living in a walled garden through the 3 connection.

I would often remark that within my lifetime, the ‘3’ service would not change(sarcastically adding that I had to worry about ‘3’s lifetime more than my own!)

All that changed last week with the announcement that ‘3’ is adopting a diagrammatically opposite strategy to that they have pursued so far : i.e. they are adopting OpenGardens and fixed rate pricing

Although the exact pricing is not announced, the strategic direction is more important.

It will lead to other operators announcing similar pricing and thus a virtuous cycle for the industry.

Coming so close to Christmas(and consequently handset upgrade cycles), other Operators may well have been caught on the wrong foot.

For years, the Mobile Data Industry wanted Web valuations without embracing the ethos of the Web.

And everything was done to show how ‘Mobile Data’ is different

We tried Location

We tried talking of ‘performance’.

We tried ‘User experience’.

We tried ‘content’ and also ‘relevance’

Most of all, we tried ‘walled gardens’ and we avoided fixed rate billing

Walled Gardens and the lack of Fixed price billing were the two biggest factors throttling the uptake of the Mobile Data Industry

Because ..

If the other factors above are critical .. then how do we explain SMS?

Think about it ..

SMS breaks every rule in the book.

Interface – what interface?

Performance – Is NOT guaranteed .. (you send an SMS – no guarantee that it will reach recipient and when)

And so on ..

Thus, all other factors are necessary but not sufficient to create a vibrant industry(as the experience of SMS so aptly demonstrates)

But SMS has three things going for it ..

a) It was P2P and it was based on ‘User generated content’

b) It had a revenue model through Premium SMS and also in itself (at least in Europe)

c) It had critical mass and interoperability(again mainly in Europe and Asia)

Ironically, the entire industry benefited from the uptake of SMS.

We don’t worry about ‘Operator pipes’ when it comes to SMS (because it is mostly P2P communication i.e. there is no unpipe as I said in a previous post )

That’s why I am so bullish about the ‘3’ announcement

Both OpenGardens and Fixed price billing lead to a healthier value chain(for all players including Operators)

Any operator who takes up this strategy deserves higher market valuations because they are aligning themselves to the ethos of the Web.

I expect that this will also translate into greater customer uptake, move data usage, greater ad revenues etc. All of which will create a virtuous cycle for 3 and also the industry as a whole.

Two other points are worth noting

a) Fixed rate billing will lead to a whole set of new applications such as Mobile podcasting(which are currently not commercially feasible now). This will boost innovation at the grassroots level in contrast with the ‘song and dance’ applications we see proliferating today. I have nothing against Ringtones, Wallpapers and other forms of ‘Broadcast content’ as Howard Rheingold calls it, but these applications primarily benefit the big media players, Operators and some large aggregators. They belittle the true potential of the Mobile Data industry and they provide no incentive for the grassroots developers. All that changes when fixed rate pricing and OpenGardens become the norm.

b) While not immediately apparent, there are two revenue models for ‘3’ – first is the data charges but also there is advertising as the BBC says : The proposed flat rate may pay some of 3′s networks costs, but the real business model is advertising.

That’s where Mobile Web 2.0 comes in .. i.e. ad supported business models on Mobile devices will mirror the uptake of Web 2.0 applications.

The importance of the resurgent advertising model in laying the foundations of Web 2.0(and by extension Mobile Web 2.0 ) is shown by Jason Calacanis in a fascinating blog The real story of Web 2.0: Advertising 2.0 where he says

The real story of Web 2.0 has little to do with the bells and whistles and everything to do with the stunning growth of online advertising.

And also

How far will this trend line go? Think 20 more years of similar growth.

Will it(rate of growth) get steeper? Absolutely.

To conclude ..

As a blogger with a mission of fostering grassroots innovation, healthier value chains and greater uptake of the Mobile data industry: I say ..

The future is bright .. the future is 3.

What is the history behind the perplexed Leonardo image?

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I have used the image of the ‘Leonardo in the walled garden’ for this blog from its inception.

The perplexed Leonardo in a walled garden – symbolizes everything this blog is all about

Originally, the image was meant to be used on the cover of my first book OpenGardens, but for various reasons, we did not end up using it

The Leonardo represents garage/grassroots developers i.e. the people who have the talent and the courage to create new vistas (applications). However, the Mobile data industry, as I understood it then, (and to a large extent even now) .. is not an optimal place for the innovator due to its fragmented, proprietary standards and walled gardens approach.

Hence, the perplexed Leonardo .. painting his Mona Lisa within the confines of a walled garden.

On a more serious note, that’s the reason why this blog advocates open standards, non proprietary technologies and the ethos of the web(and will continue to do so!).

It has been a lonely voice for a while but today as we see greater amalgamation between the web and the mobile web, I look forward to the day when I think up of a new cartoon.

The image was drawn up by the talented Amanda Vlahakis who captured just the sentiments in my mind through this lovely animation

another brick off the walled garden ..

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from Ovum my comments below.

11:45 3 UK: another brick off the walled garden

Dario Betti

Mobile operator 3 UK is to give its subscribers mobile access to the Internet outside of its own ‘walled garden’ of products for the first time this month. From the end of September, 3 users will be able to pay £2.50 per month to download up to 5Mb of data from the Internet. However, access will still be restricted to sites that 3 has deemed “optimised for viewing on compatible video mobiles”.

Comment: In 2003, at the time of launch, 3 had a very different strategy. It saw itself as a media company and wanted to be in complete control of what was on offer to its users. After its false start, 3 has re-focused its business more on voice tariffs and less on media services. Opening up the so-called walled garden is a necessary step: no single operator, even a large one, can offer the range of services that users might want. Also, it is good to offload some of the risk for new applications onto publishers. As long as the operator can charge for traffic and for billing, its business model is sound.

The service does not yet offer a complete web browsing experience. 3 only allows certain sites to be accessed on its handsets. The threat of bad user experience is very high: navigating the Internet on a mobile phone can be frustrating. We think that 3 is restricting access more to protect its users than to shield its own service line up. The operator says it will make 'hundreds' of such sites available in the coming months, and is offering users a chance to nominate those that they want to be made available.

However, 3 is not knocking down its walled garden, although it is taking one further step towards it. This is an add-on, paid-for service; only keen users will be attracted to it. The problem is how to charge for access to the worldwide web/WAP. In a prepaid dominated market, it should look at offering this in other packages and not just as a subscription. After all, other operators are already opening their portals or offering web browsing options. T-Mobile is counting on its 'web and walk' offer, O2 will launch the open garden i-Mode service, and Vodafone Live! intends to open up its off-portal access even more. This is an area to watch. Expect plenty of talk about walled gardens, open gardens and parks in 2006.

In many ways, 3 epitomises the walled gardens concept. While it seems to be getting some benefits commercially, like AOL, long term it will not work out. AOL, at least had access to exclusive content through the time Warner deal. 3 may need some such suitor. Even then, AOL was forced to open up and I predict so will 3. As the comments from Dario(ovum) below show – 3 is still way off from all the other operators and it’s just a matter of time before the walls break down completely

emailed to me by my good friend Lore Ridings of Prasada

Image courtesy : Pink floyd – the wall – a complete analysisA fascinating site – well worth a visit