A recent article in FierceWireless Europe (March 11) reviewed findings by market research company Analysys Mason, which speculates on how ‘exclusive content’ could become the next battle ground for operators trying to control customer churn.

Power of open access is the oxygen of the internet

Power of open access is the oxygen of the internet

Specifically, the article states:

Worryingly, Analysys Mason claims its research found that 25 per cent of iPhone owners would switch service providers to gain access to specific content and applications.”

This statement has certainly got me worried. Now, I recognize this is about iPhone users, and that the world of the “iSomething” is a strange one. It is like visiting a theme park of the entire world, beautified by Apple and marketed with seductive polish. It’s just that it isn’t the world, it’s a simulacrum, crafted to smooth-off the rough edges on the real thing, to seamlessly re-stitch the ragged bits that itch and irritate from time to time. It’s a one-size fits all kind of place, that rewards its inhabitants’ commitment to live within its candy-colored confines by reminding them how good they’ve got it compared to the rest of us.

The point about the Fierce analysis that worries me – and irritates me – is the idea that you should have to change your service provider and/or device to “gain access to specific content and applications”. Hang on a minute….didn’t the web consign exactly this kind of siloed thinking to the trash can of history? The whole value proposition of the web is precisely that you don’t have to switch anything to gain access to content and applications.

Perhaps the mobile apps revolution has been ‘spun’ with such speed that we’ve become dizzy with the excitement and forgotten precisely why the web democratized the whole access and distribution model for on-line services. The forces that have powered everything on-line – from the humble blog to the ecommerce giants of Amazon and eBay – came to be because the web made their very existence easy, low-cost and ubiquitous for consumers. The powerhouses of today’s internet – Google, Twitter, Facebook, Groupon – may offer access to their services in the form of apps, but in practice require only that you have internet connectivity and a browser, and are easily available whether your device costs less than 100 dollars or you have the financial means to contribute to Apple’s heady profits.

Make no mistake – it would be a massive backward step if content could only be reached by changing service provider or device manufacturer. If as Analysys Mason fear, iPhone users find themselves having to switch service provider to gain access to specific content and applications, I’d recommend they make a more fundamental decision and move for good to a carrier and device maker that believes in the internet philosophy of access to everything, from any device. This power of open access is the oxygen of the internet and it should be safeguarded at all costs.