What Wireless Carriers Could Learn From Facebook

June 2, 2007   

I'm spending my Saturday night reviewing a WAP development proposal for one of my clients, and any such work gets me thinking about how screwy the whole mobile system is here in the USA, much to the fault of the carriers. But as I sit here watching ESPN, I see a commercial for their ESPN mobile app/service on Verizon (announced in mid-May).

This gets me thinking.

The advertised service is basically a mirror of their ESPN Mobile MVNO service, but hosted on the "Verizon Platform."

Of course the "Verizon Plaform" doesn't actually exist, but obviously ESPN made a decision that this whole MVNO deal may have been too much of a hassle for the margins, and that putting all that functionality with Verizon's walled garden was a better than going it alone.

This, especially in light of AMP'd Mobile filing for bankruptcy, and news that Helio is hemorrhaging money (at least for the time being), may indicate a real lesson in this mobile application development game.

So what is the lesson?

Mobile application development could be a lot better if wireless companies took a hint from Facebook and truly opened their platforms like Verizon has for ESPN and allowed anyone to build feature rich services right into their infrastructure. This would allow these folks to sell more data packages and even perhaps some advanced functionality. But at least giving some basic tools to developers and consumers could spur a lot more creativity than just "let me 'twit' what I'm doing every 20 seconds" -- and a think a lot of people would appreciate that.

Now back this darned report.

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