It is obvious that mobile device proliferation has had a dramatic increase in productivity for knowledge workers worldwide. In addition it is well known the US government and military functions more effectively because it relies on Blackberrys.
It goes without saying that the individual mobility needs of a users varies widely as some mobile workers need optimal web access while others primarily need e-mail access and others may need specific applications.
It is also well known that every mobile device today from Blackberry to iPhone consists of numerous design tradeoffs weighing size, keyboard, connection speed, processor speed and more.
The next point worth considering is consumer choice. For example, if using the best device makes users most productive, then having the greatest access to devices means the best potential fit of personal needs and device which in turn means the most potential productivity. After all, if a user needs access to the best browser, they need a device with sufficient resolution to allow for this.
As different users have different device preferences and needs, it seems obvious that having one dozen devices to choose from is better –from a productivity standpoint – than having four.
If we can agree that having the greatest access to mobile devices can make users most productive then we must further acknowledge that if a country such as the United States has access to the greatest variety of mobile devices it will in turn have a competitive advantage in the world market.
Unfortunately the opposite is true and I was reminded of just how far behind the US is when it comes to mobile phone choice as I read this MSNBC/Forbes article titled Coolest cell phones you can’t get in the U.S.
While this article is focused more on consumer-friendly phones, the situation in the business phone market is similar and U.S. service providers have done a great job ensuring there is not much consumer choice in device selection.
I am not an advocate of needless government regulation but it is apparent to me that consumers, businesses and the country would be better off if any device worked on any network. It seems like common sense but service providers exert tremendous control on device manufacturers and as such Americans suffer because they have less choice.
This is exactly why the Carterfone rule needs to be applied to wireless networks. This is the rule which allowed consumers to utilize phones other than those from AT&T on AT&T’s network. A wave of telephone competition and plummeting prices was a result of this ruling in the PSTN world.
It seems apparent that this same rule should be applied to cellular networks as well to not only lower prices and give more consumer choice but perhaps most importantly to ensure the U.S. can catch up to the rest of developed countries when it comes to mobile productivity.
For more on Carterfone and Open Access be sure to see the TMCnet article titled FCC Outlines Plans for Public Safety Network, Open Wireless Access.