A Verizon Wireless spokesperson has indicated that the company plans to block applications that draw a lot of bandwidth from its V CAST Apps store. What, you thought Verizon was going to be more "open"? This and the Great Google Voice Debacle prove that "openness" is a fallacy and the walled gardens never came down.Earlier this week, Verizon Wireless formally shared details about the V CAST Apps Store, set to launch by the end of 2009. Verizon was sure to note that it is working hard with partners such as Research In Motion and Qualcomm to make sure developers have all the tools they need.
Verizon also took a pot-shot at Apple, and said that it will have a "more transparent" application approval process than Apple's apparently is. Based on the statements of Verizon's Brian Higgins, Verizon is already living up to the transparency claim.
Higgins recent told VentureBeat, "We know how much data costs us per megabyte. We need to take a look at each of these applications, case by case, to make sure that we've got applications which are completely upside-down relative to what we will be charging to consumers. Moving over to LTE, you will always have the same sort of sensitivities. There always be a cost of pushing these bits and bytes over the network, but it will just change significantly. It will be much more efficient to our cost structure to do that with LTE. So what we will ultimately see is much more latitude for video-based applications and data-intensive applications once we get to the LTE network."
In other words, don't expect to see bandwidth-intensive applications or services in the V CAST Apps Store, at least not for some time. Why not? Because Verizon will be blocking applications submitted by developers that it perceives as a threat to its network. Does that sound like a familiar story?
AT&T, Apple and Google got all tangled up this week when Apple yanked the Google Voice application from the iPhone (and not other AT&T smartphones). According to reports, Apple pulled the application at AT&T's request. AT&T made the request because it perceived that the Google Voice app was a threat to its network -- or maybe its bottom line.
Put these two incidents together, and it's pretty clear that there are limitations to the whole notion of "openness."
The idea that wireless network operators take down their "walled gardens" seemed as though it would become a reality this year, but now I don't really believe it will ever happen. The network operators are always going to do what they have to do to protect their networks and their shareholders. Those concerns will always be placed before consumers.
Consumers looking for the most freedom will simply have to pick the walled garden with the lowest walls.