August 11, 2010
Wired’s Epicenter wrote an extensive article about the Google/Verizon Net Neutrality “surrender”.
While I wish Google could fight forever for consumer rights their motto isn’t “Expert Independent Non-Profit”. We should be happy they fought for as long as they did. Did anyone else bid up the spectrum? What success have other manufactures had selling unlocked phones? At least Google tried to do the right thing.
Cell companies are powerful entities. So powerful that even Google couldn’t win. And if you remember, neither could Apple. The key here is that even if you bring your own phone to the table you have to pay the same monthly fees as someone who gets a subsidized phone. No manufacturer can compete with that. Google was trying to get companies to commit to a discount (they did get T-Mobile to agree) but I’m not sure what Google had to offer customers who bought directly from them instead of a carrier and so the carrier had no incentive to offer discounted plans.
The only solution here is government intervention and it’s a simple rule: If a carrier offers a phone for $199 with a 2 year contract but $599 without then $400 is the assumed value of the phone and if someone brings their own phone the monthly price has to be discounted by $400/24 or about $17/month. It’s as simple as that.
Vic Gundotra does talk about the openness and freedom of Android over the competition and Android isn’t 100% open but it’s certainly more open than iPhone or Blackberry. And while phones loaded with crapware and other carrier constraints are not ideal the blame goes with cell companies for breaking Google’s awesome operations system. Google’s openness allows cell companies freedom too. And it means *WE* have the freedom to choose another carrier. (And, maybe a new cell company that treats users with respect will emerge from all of this.)
I talked to Jim (who calls me a Google Apologist which is true but still) and here is my addendum.
Up until the Verizon deal many felt that Google’s interests were in line with the public interests so the “Don’t be evil” catchphrase sounded right. And now Google is being evil somehow?
Again, I don’t see it. Sure, at some point Google is going to want to do something against the public interest and we can all finally agree Google is just another company that want’s to suck us all dry but this isn’t it. I mean, net neutrality for wired and wireless will always be in Google’s best interest (as well as ours). Sure, they have Android and maybe this was a way to get Verizon to get behind the Android brand but it’s never that simple and Google knows Verizon would drop them like a bad habit if Apple came calling.