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Cracks in the walled gardens

I didn't rush out and buy an iPhone last week.  There was no point.  No Canadian operators offer the product, and it's locked up tight tight tight, even though folks like Jeff Pulver, Tom Evslin and Fred Wilson are offering publicity and bounties for an unlocked iPhone.  Moreover, early reports are that while it's a great iPod it's not such a good email device.  Instead, on iDay, I bought a new BlackBerry Curve.  It's available here, and much more aligned with my needs.

Nevertheless, with 700,000 sold in just a few days, the iPhone is setting some interesting new trends in the industry.  The trend that has me most intrigued is this. Even though it's totally locked up, iPhone opens a crack in the carriers' walled gardens.  Apple kept full control of the phone experience, nor does AT&T control the content channel.  With iPhone, AT&T is just a data traffic provider, and control is shifted to the user who can access whatever content he wishes, without carrier interference.  That's huge.  It's also reflected in the margins on the phone: AT&T's plans, all of which include unlimited data, sell for peanuts, while Apple reaps an estimated 55 percent margin on this pricey device.

In India, BlackBerry Pearl sells for $570, while the plan that goes with it is just $20. And Nokia sells unlocked WiFi enabled phones to anyone who wants.  The content channel, it seems, is out of the reach of the carriers.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Manoj Sati July 6, 2007, 1:22 am

    For about $5 a month (based on current conversion rates), you can get an all you can eat wireless data access through AirTel (one of India's premier cell carriers). This is on GPRS and the speed is, ahem, passable at most times; but hey, no walled gardens here. You can access any website you want.

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