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Strangling the Golden Goose



Simpleton_finds_The_Golden_Goose_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_15661 Mobile is all about getting the Internet in your pocket these days. It appears for some of the major players who are driving the scene it is all about picking customers pockets as well. Apple has led the charge with its iPhone and now that T-Mobile, Google, and HTC have announced the G1, the first handset featuring Google’s Android, there is another big player in the game. Of course the other OEMs and Telcos are still in their fighting for their piece of the pie.

Sales figures on the iPhone 3G are eye-popping, even more so given the problems it has had since it launched. Anticipation is high for whatever Android will see usher into the market over the next period of time. Everybody should be happy, but there are, to my mind, some self inflicted wounds that these companies are dealing with, that while they may not slow down momentum, tell me that they really don’t see the long view. This is analogous to the moves toward capping regular broadband and tiered broadband.

Apple’s way of wrapping its hands around the neck of the golden goose is how it is administering its vaunted App Store. We’ve seen two reports of applications being rejected because they offer functionality similar to Apple’s own apps. One of these developers has publicly said he’ll take his app to the Android platform and good for him. But now Apple is reminding developers that even rejection letters are under NDA and they can’t talk about it. Give me a break. That’s control fascism style, and yes I know that term applies more to government than to business, but it works in this case. In my opinion, and that of many others, Apple’s penchant for secrecy is what led to many of the woes with its iPhone 3G, MobileMe, and App Store releases. But when the dollars are rolling in, it is hard to change bad habits. Let’s not mention here that AT&T’s 3G network is so obviously not ready for the volume of iPhones that are now using it, even though users are paying for that service. All the stuff class action lawsuits are made of.

Now T-Mobile, fresh in the bright lights of the G1 announcements, looks like it wants to eat from the stupid and greedy pie as well. After publicly proclaiming a $179 price for existing users, T-Mobile is hearing it from some of those existing users who are discovering that this only applies to those who are eligible for an upgrade due to how long they’ve been under contract. James Kendrick has a good piece on this about his experience. T-Mobile also forgot to mention a little tidbit that will become a big gotcha as well, I’m predicting. T-Mobile is playing with the English language and the word ““Unlimited” in ways that others have before.  But if you look at the fine print, your access can’t exceed 1GB of bandwidth a month. If you do, you can be throttled back to 50kbps.

Om Malik had a post calling for help in creating a BroadBand Bill of Rights the other day. That’s a good call and I support that. But I’d much rather see us enforce some concepts that we already have on the books like deceptive advertising and perpetrating fraud. Unlike those who think it is acceptable to redefine words, I use those in the sentence above with the full and distinct value of their meaning.

We all know how unscrupulous these companies can be, and we are disappointed when they show those despicable faces. But somehow we keep paying the piper and feeding the greedy behavior. It is just a shame that while their innovations offer such promise for the future, their robber baron like business practices show that we haven’t really advanced at all.

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