Can Walt Mossberg Change The World?

I sure hope so. Well timed for CTIA is his Free My Phone blog post on the mobile space. Walt wishes for an opening of the US mobile industry.

That’s why I refer to the big cellphone carriers as the “Soviet ministries.” Like the old bureaucracies of communism, they sit athwart the market, breaking the link between the producers of goods and services and the people who use them.

Walt does not, unfortunately, offer any great reasons for mobile operators to change their ways in the short run. After all, they did spend hundreds of millions building expensive networks and have the right to explore and exploit them as they see fit.

Walt’s reference to mobile operators as communist-era bureaucrats makes me think about the painful transition to market economies the Soc block went through. Not sure why any of the pre-transition governments would have signed up for the pain that followed… Wait, they didn’t. The benefits of a market economy in the future couldn’t justify the short-term pain.

China has really been the only country where the pain of not doing something radical–a likely peasant revolt–outweighed the costs of moving towards a more flexible and free economy. The Chinese model for managing the economy may be appealing to mobile operators. It is not a free market jungle but it is also far from central planning. It is a managed ecosystem. Could the threat of consumer revolt prompt mobile operators to move towards more openness?

About Simeon Simeonov

I'm an entrepreneur, hacker, angel investor and reformed VC. I am currently Founder & CTO of Swoop, a search advertising platform. Through FastIgnite I invest in and work with a few great startups to get more done with less. Learn more, follow @simeons on Twitter and connect with me on LinkedIn.
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3 Responses to Can Walt Mossberg Change The World?

  1. Cesar Brea says:

    Sim, I think what we have is a failure of imagination. Here are some ideas:

    http://www.octavianworld.org/octavianworld/2007/10/pricing-iphone-.html

    Cesar

  2. Vladimir Dimitroff says:

    Can’t agree more with Cesar – the possibilities are (nearly) endless, even limited imagination will uncover some – so what we (they) lack is, in fact, good will. The will to sit down, borrow that sole brain cell they share among Board members, and use it to their customers’ – and shareholders’ – benefit.

    Mobile operators are my clients and I catch myself speaking of them as ‘us’, although I don’t alwasy share their views and strategies (you can take a horse to the water etc.). One thing I can confirm: where customer centricity is less of a lip service and more of a well understood philosophy for creating shareholder value, there are signs of ‘perestroyka’ and gradual dismantling of ‘totalitarian operator dictatorship’ (kudos to Sim for the analogy).

    Revolutions are unlikely, but watch this space for some spectacular transition to come…

  3. Pingback: Walt Mossberg and Verizon’s Move to Open Its Network « HighContrast

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