In a response to the State of the Union speech in which President Obama outlined his stance on net neutrality, the CEO of Blackberry issued a blog posting describing his support for an open and non-discriminatory internet. Along with outlining free and open internet access, part of his argument also states that companies like Apple should be required to make services like iMessage non-proprietary and allow them to work on alternative platforms.
“Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service…This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which [iPhone] users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.
Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system.”
In his argument, BlackBerry’s CEO puts more on the table, and brings into question whether Net Neutrality applies to all players on the Internet, and for all services being offered, instead of simply being a protection for end users.
In essence, BlackBerry is demanding access to Apple’s popular services so it can leverage them to sell more of its devices, a leverage Apple and others have spent many resources developing to give a unique experience for users, and sell their proprietary platforms. Despite this, there is a point made that iMessage users are required to interact using only Apple’s products, which in itself is a limitation.
With regards to similar services, Apple has included other platforms, allowing iPhones and iPads to be set up with non-Apple computers, and porting some iCloud services to Windows systems. However, should there be a requirement that all services and devices from Apple be made available for other platforms? While consumers might love the options, and this may lead to greater adoption of iMessage, it will undoubtedly affect how Apple advertises its products.
Would you like to see iMessage ported to work on other platforms, and would you continue to value Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and other devices in the same way if you could contact folks with Messages from another platform? Or is this even an aspect of the argument at hand? In most markets, players offer incentives (such as financial, or perhaps a benefit from a significant increase in user base) in order to lure cooperation from competitors, so while the intent and argument by BlackBerry is well placed, and deserves attention, it cannot be overlooked that this approach is somewhat of a demand for a lifeline.
Sound like a good idea on one hand but if other vendors want the access iMessage then Apple would definitely have to put a price tag on it, but knowing Blackberry they would still complain since they figure it should be free.
First of all, there’s no comparison. The reason Net Neutrality is an important issue is that cable companies basically have a monopoly on high speed internet service in many areas. Apple is not a monopoly.
That said, it’s interesting that anybody would care enough to want to adopt iMessage. Apple is clearly moving in the opposite direction, building in support for SMS into OSX to become more compatible with open standards. The main value of iMessage has already been achieved, it seems to me, because carriers now basically don’t charge for SMS anymore, thanks to alternatives like iMessage and WhatsApp.
So his plan for a “free, open and non-discriminatory internet” is to have federal regulators go into every single software company, get access to their internal product development plans, and force them to add ways for arbitrary external entities to get access to the private data that the customers have agreed to exchange with those companies. Certainly nothing can go wrong with this scheme.
Every time I hear something new from the Blackberry corporate leadership, it becomes more and more apparent why they are the utter failures in the marketplace they are.
This is nonsense. The point of Net Neutrality to me is to keep the Internet free from encumbrances like allowing the roads to be used by all vehicles, not just certain cars by a certain manufacturer. The problem with NN is that not all traffic is equal. Even on our highway systems we sometimes have to route trucks differently than cars because of their payload and size. Personally, I don’t like a one size fits all approach.
The game that Internet providers are now playing is to introduce data caps that are ridiculously low if you have an average sized family and watch a lot of content online from Netflix, VUDU or Amazon. That is far more serious because it keeps consumers either locked in to paying high fees for Internet or high fees for bundled services.
On the one hand it would be convenient for users if iMessages was available on other platforms. But Mr. Chen overplays his hand more than a little. To begin with he’s making an Apple’s and Oranges argument, trying to extend the definition of net neutrality beyond what it is commonly accepted to be. He’s venturing into uncharted territory primarily for self-interested reasons. Though he invokes the needs of users, that need in the case he posits has no standing in law. He’s making it up out of whole cloth, as it were. If he truly believes that what he’s saying has any legal basis – quite a reach since net neutrality regulations have yet to be finalized, let alone put into effect – he’s welcome, I’m sure, once those regs are in force, to make his case in court. But to say that Apple must do anything of the sort he proposes, as things now stand, is simply preposterous.
I expect he knows this, if Blackberry still has even one competent lawyer on staff. What Chen is clearly attempting to do is churn up some public demand for iMassages on alternative platforms, and on Blackberry in particular. What he fails to explain is how it is in any way in Apple’s interest to do as he wishes. Lacking that explanation, he uses the word “must,” as if that somehow will add heft to his argument. But since there is as yet no binding law or regulation on the matter, he is just blowing wind. What’s worse, for him, is that everyone knows it – Apple especially. His words are obviously, and sadly, those of a desperate man trying in any way he can think of to breath new life into his moribund company. Can’t blame a guy for trying, I guess. It’s certainly within his job description.
Legal exigencies aside, Apple could conceivable develop iMassages for other platforms – if they think the status of iMessages as a de facto standard would be useful to them. What impact such a development would have on the sale of iOS devices would be hard to determine. I doubt that many people buy iPhones or iPads just so they can use Apple’s SMS app. Personally I think Chen would have done better to make his case to Tim Cook in private, leaving off his feeble attempt at intimidation. Apple has never responded well to threats. And they do have many competent lawyers in their employ. Cook might have listened to the public interest side of the argument if Chen had had the sense to put his notion forward in that way. Instead, what he’s probably done is kill the idea dead. Chen is foolish and ill advised as well as desperate. He thought he saw an opportunity but gave the idea too little thought. With leadership like that it’s no wonder Blackberry has been staring into the abyss for years now.
Anyway, Topher, thanks for the news. We can all use a good laugh. :-O
“What Chen is clearly attempting to do is churn up some public demand for iMassages on alternative platforms”
I don’t see any need for these on any other platforms, maybe softer platforms, or heated ones, but I think that could be added to current platforms. 8-P
Chen says” applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system.”
Would that mean every single iOS app must be ported to Android and WindowsPhone?