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As the Wall Street Journal reported today (in a story that remains behind the soon-to-be-demolished pay wall), Verizon has announced that it will open its mobile network to any device that meets a certain minimum standard — although it says it will continue to offer “locked” devices through its retail network. Like Cynthia Brumfield at IPDemocracy, I think this could be a pretty huge development.

It’s unclear whether this means that Verizon will be joining up with Google and its Open Handset Alliance/Android platform proposal, although Adam Ostrow at Mashable says the carrier was rumoured to be joining even before this latest announcement. In any case, Verizon’s move seems to suggest that being open is becoming a competitive advantage for companies in relatively mature markets such as mobile. That said, Om Malik seems somewhat skeptical of Verizon’s motives, and says open access could prove to be expensive.

As Adam notes, Verizon has clearly decided to forego short-term revenue gains in return for what it sees as longer-term benefits. An interesting choice. And when could we expect someone like Rogers or Telus or Bell Mobility to do the same kind of thing in Canada? Approximately never.

About the author

Mathew 2422 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

11 Responses to “Could open be a competitive advantage?”
  1. You have to wonder whether this is the writing on the wall after the iPhone's launch.

    What Jobs Hath Wrought?

    • Indeed. Would this fall into the category of unintended consequences,
      or would Jobs be just fine with an open iPhone?

      • Well, I think he must have known that holding AT&T down and beating it about the head and shoulders like that would encourage others to do the same, and that once people saw how successful giving people what they want would be otherwise would try to imitate the model.

  2. Oh, and you also have to wonder how roaming will work if devices permitted by Verizon conflict with network requirements of other providers, eg in Canada. Open has a way of opening up closed.

  3. You have to wonder whether this is the writing on the wall after the iPhone's launch.

    What Jobs Hath Wrought?

  4. Oh, and you also have to wonder how roaming will work if devices permitted by Verizon conflict with network requirements of other providers, eg in Canada. Open has a way of opening up closed.

  5. Indeed. Would this fall into the category of unintended consequences,
    or would Jobs be just fine with an open iPhone?

  6. […] very much?  What of the Google Open Handset (aka Android) initiative?  Will Verizon join up?  Some say it was already rumored before this latest.  Beyond all that, what if everyone’s playbacks are […]

  7. Well, I think he must have known that holding AT&T down and beating it about the head and shoulders like that would encourage others to do the same, and that once people saw how successful giving people what they want would be otherwise would try to imitate the model.

  8. Er, “others would try …”

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