Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Dean Bubley: Service, application or feature?

Dean Bubley writes at his Disruptive Wireless blog about "how differently the IP and mobile worlds treat 'things that people can do with their phone & the network.'" Bubley outlines three main schools of thought:

  • "It's a service" - which means "we, your carrier, will install a bunch of complex kit, maybe customise your end device, and bill you for using this thing every time/month/per-byte/etc. We might also try & charge you for using someone else's service, and bill you on their behalf."
  • "It's an application" - which means "we, your carrier, will try and sell you some software that makes this thing work, and maybe even host it for you. However, you will 'own' it, which means that any problems are yours to solve"
  • "It's a feature" - "we, your carrier, are annoyed that Microsoft / Symbian / someone else has bundled this in with the software of the phone, and that it connects to some server outside our control, relegating us to the role of 'bit pipe', without any chance to earn extra revenues, even if we're adding no appreciable extra value".
Bubley adds a fourth school of thought, which is "It's bait for out community/advertisers/OS, and if it's not good enough, we'll keep adding extra bits until it is." Bubley concludes wiith:
It strikes me that one of the things that IMS will enable is much simpler service vs. application vs. feature arbitrage. Of course, this isn't the IMS intention at all, which is purely about services - but to make IMS work, it seems likely that phones (and networks) will need such a lot of upgrade in terms of "smartness" and performance, that the feature & application stuff will probably sneak in regardless.