It was clear that the stasis quo of "walled garden" services in the U.S. cellular market couldn't be maintained forever. The carriers were being outpaced by the development of mobile applications and devices and the move to more Internet-like services over the cellphone.
The pace of change might surprise some, however, particularly as Verizon -- widely seen as a fairly conservative player -- seems to be leading the charge. Even this week, the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based operator has said that it will swap spectrum with rival AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and use Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Android operating system.
Now I read the Unstrung message board, and I realize that some readers are pretty cynical about the apparent opening up of the U.S. cellular scene. Plenty of questions remain, for sure:
- How "open" will open-access really be, for instance? Even Verizon says it still has final say on what applications are available over its wireless network.
- Will the potential break-down of the contract and minute-bucket system really be better for consumers? Or will they end up spending more on the initial purchase of handsets?
- How quickly will things open up? And will consumers even notice?
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung