BlackBerry says the US government should make those nasty developers write apps for its platform.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

January 22, 2015

3 Min Read
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection – That's Just Sad

BlackBerry, which frittered away the smartphone market it helped create, is now hoping the US government will pass a law keeping it in business.In a blog post Wednesday, CEO John Chen says he thinks net neutrality is just swell. He likes it so much that he wants to extend the principle to include "Application/Content Neutrality." He wants to require application developers to write software for BlackBerry when they're writing for other platforms.Chen adapted the blog from a letter sent Wednesday to key US Representatives.I'll put aside the issue of a non-American -- a Canadian! -- commenting on US affairs. Canada is an excellent country. As science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein wrote about Vancouver -- and by extension, all of Canada -- it's a "part of the United States where the people were so clever that they never paid taxes to Washington." And it's not like we Americans are shy about butting our noses into other countries' affairs. (Note to our friends in Canada: Any activity performed on ice skates isn't a real sport.)Chen's proposal is screwy, but it is so monumentally out of whack with reality that it's difficult to articulate what doesn't make sense about it. Crazy ideas are like that. If someone says to you that proprietary networking is better than SDN, you can have a nice little discussion about the relative merits of the two approaches. But if someone says both proprietary networks and SDN are inferior to letting photons be carried by elves, you're just left sputtering and blurting, "No. Just... no."Chen's proposal has a similar, difficult-to-refute elvish insanity to it. Here's why it doesn't make sense.Chen is looking at net neutrality from the wrong perspective. Net neutrality is not designed to protect businesses. It's designed to protect the customer.Sure, net neutrality is often discussed as a way to protect innovative startups from being squashed by the cable/telco duopoly. (And BlackBerry, by the way, is no innovative startup; it's a 31-year-old company whose latest brainstorm was the BlackBerry Classic, the major selling point of which is that it's just like BlackBerry's last good product from years ago.)What's really at stake with net neutrality isn't protecting startups and other businesses. Net neutrality is intended to protect customers, by allowing them to have access to those startups' services, and preventing Internet providers from setting up roadblocks to those services.Nobody's blocking customers from buying BlackBerry products. People just don't want them. Adding more apps to the BlackBerry platform will make it less unattractive. But it'll still be unattractive.Get the latest mobile news, analysis, and opinion on Light Reading's dedicated mobile content channel.Moreover, mandating app developers write for an additional platform will create additional cost for developers. It will likely put small, indie developers out of business.BlackBerry is just going to have to compete by offering compelling products and services, rather than legal decrees. If it can.Why do you think Chen's proposal is crazy? Or do you actually think it makes sense? Let us know.— Mitch Wagner, , West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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