"You purchase an app for one operating system, and if you want it on another device or platform, you have to buy it again. That's not how our customers expect to experience this environment."
Carriers had their chance with apps. Before the iPhone and the app store, carriers tried to sell absurdly expensive apps to users that were of limited value compared to what you could get from other sellers. Now they are trying again, but this time from a different angle.
Rather than set up a carrier store that is exclusive to that network, they, or AT&T at least, wants to sell apps via the Wholesale Application Community. This would be a super-app store selling apps through all carriers and for all platforms.
Have a Blackberry on Verizon and switch to Android on T-Mobile? To the extent the same app is available for both platforms, the end user would just have to log into his app account and redownload for the new phone.
This sounds good in theory but the issue is, how are you going to get Apple to relinquish the revenue that it generates from the App Store? Microsoft and RIM have similar stores. It is more than just money though. These platform centric stores are used by their owners to control what goes on the device. They can block porn and other content they deem objectionable, which is a questionable practice in a society that places great value on personal freedom, but I understand the desire to control what your creation is used for.
Most importantly, these stores do a lot to prevent malware, viruses and culling of personal data. This adds value to the mobile platform, and that is something an independent third party store won't really care about.
I understand what Stephenson is saying, but the platform store owners have a very good defense for keeping things under their control.