Netbooks making laptops smaller and smartphones making mobile phones bigger, the world is going gadget crazy, even if not entirely sure where gadgets are headed, or what they are for. As blogged here a few days ago Dell is launching an MVNO, and as pointed out to me earlier today, Nokia beat them to it. At the same time, apps are in. Big style. Google Android Apps, Apple Apps, now Blackberry, em, Berries. Word is many of the big service providers (what’s the difference between a ‘mobile web widget’ and an app?) are thinking of stores of their own, even though AT&T’s Mobile CEO Ralph De La Vega warned against a proliferation of app stores. Maybe it’s because App Stores would become like websites or something like that.
Reading about all this made me wince a little, especially when I came to this bit about Google. What I am trying to ask myself is, first, does this not seem like a move that is against net neutrality? You remember net neutrality, don’t you? Way, way back in 1997, before the credit crunch, when Dubya was still on Pennsylvania Avenue, and Bertie Ahern was still Irish Taoiseach (I know, it’s hard to remember that far back) well, that Summer we had a humdinger of a debate on whether Comcast and Time Warner and all those folks should get paid by $550 per share web behemoth Google and its compadrés for having brought customers to its door.
Whooooaaaaa, we all said. You can’t do that. That compromises the very principles of the internet, we said. And Google agreed. Oh yes, you cannot compromise the integrity of the net’s openness. That’s what makes it what it is (apart from China, of course). Yes, that is what it is. And the FCC relented, and we slunk off on summer holidays and forgot about it for a while.
So, here we are, and Google is now deciding what can and cannot pass through the internet where its own customers are concerned. I’m not entirely sure how different that is. Apple has been doing it too, with tethering apps and other less legally / commercially / contractually (delete as appropriate) noxious apps.
So, let me get this straight. Time Warner can’t say who can do what or who should do what with bandwidth routed through it as an ISP, yet Google can do what it likes to customers routed to the internet through its gateway? Pass the bucket please, this one’s gonna stain.
Can’t we just have a mobile internet? A java O/S and browser on a phone? A basic, ordinary device, with a browser? Nothing more! That’s what we’re doing with Netbooks! Maybe I should have a netbook instead of a phone. Can I get a netbook with a dialler on the lid? Maybe that’s what I want. Yes. A netbook, from Dell, with a dialler on the lid and unlimited internet access for three years. And Skype. Cut out some features, make it weigh a little less, and screw the rest of ‘em.