Wireless Wonders

No news, just comment about mobile phones and services, from a veteran practitioner...3G, GPRS, WAP, Bluetooth, WiFi, etc...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A gate in the wall via personal-use open APIs (idea #97)

Previously I posted that operators are holding back their ability to create new business opportunities by effectively limiting innovation in their industry. This is because, unlike the Internet, a huge ocean of software innovators and entrepreneurs are shut out of the operators' walled gardens. Operators need to find a way of courting innovators without breaking down the wall.

One possibility is to create a set of open APIs into the operator network to allow mash-ups, but with a strict "personal use only" agreement and some kind of resource throttling where necessary. Most of the usual operator APIs could be made available, such as location, 3rd-party calling, texting, MMS, as well as new ones (such as call records - see idea #94). The operator could also offer an open-source SDK for a server framework to allow developers to quickly build Internet-hosted services with these APIs. A developer can play with this to their heart's content, only able to implement non-commercial services against their own phone account with the operator. Access to the APIs should be free along with a degree of free usage as an incentive. Other features, such as static public IP address for the device could also be included.

The benefits are that developers get a play pit, which is what developers like, but without operators having to think about what's the business model to allow x, y or z service on my network, as these new services are limited to developers in a way that doesn't pose a business threat. What the operator gets is a community of developers doing interesting things with their network i.e. innovation. This may or may not lead to actual service ideas with mass-adoption possibilities.

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