Enter the Verizon Platform
The thing is, Verizon's plan does make some sense. There really are too many mobile operating systems on the market now. Between BlackBerry, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and now upstarts like WebOS and Android, the smartphone market resembles somewhat the 8-bit era of the 1980s, where developers needed to learn a whole new operating environment to support each new brand of PC. Verizon can help with that -- as long as we're comfortable with history repeating itself.
Verizon plans to consolidate the mobile market in the same way that Microsoft consolidated PCs. In Verizon's world, it won't matter whether you have a BlackBerry, a Palm Pre, or a handset from HTC. Customers will have access to the same games and applications no matter which platform they use, and they'll download them from the same source: Verizon. User experience will differ from device to device, sure. But as a developer, your focus won't be on the Palm experience or the BlackBerry experience; your target platform will be Verizon handsets.
Sound scary? It should. Just the thought of it makes me thankful I'm not a Verizon customer. But as long as U.S. mobile carriers have the final say over what handsets can be used on their networks and in what manner, this is the specter looming over us. That's why I'm glad to see that the FCC is investigating the practice of exclusive contracts between handset vendors and carriers. A mobile market where customers can use whatever handsets they choose and vote with their feet when their carrier works against their interests would be the best thing for customers and developers alike -- not to mention promising upstart platforms like Palm's.
This story, "Verizon's Model for Success Is Microsoft" was originally published by InfoWorld.