Phone Wars: The Trilogy

Two episodes in the Smartphone era have occurred. What comes in the third chapter?

A New Hope

CELL PHONES changed the face of the Earth, but carriers held an iron grip on the marketplace. Consumers were forced to choose which network best suited them, before selecting the phone they would buy. Manufacturers, trying to take advantage of this new market, pushed features of all kinds to motivate people to purchase their handsets. The carriers, symbolizing the GALACTIC EMPIRE, demanded advertisement software be installed on every phone, forcing users to deal with content they never asked for. It was a dark, bitter time in communication technology.

Soon, a RESISTANCE emerged, seeking to thwart the status quo and create a new, more user-friendly way to communicate with others. STEVE JOBS lead the resistance to a brighter, carrier agnostic future. Their secret weapon, dubbed the IPHONE, would end all preinstalled software on phones and create an experience that was immune to carrier demand. Cingular made a deal with Jobs, figuring that the immense data usage would catapult them to supremacy and make them the leader of the empire. What Cingular didn’t know was that they would soon become commoditized after an initial halo period.

More companies emerged to join the resistance, limiting the empire’s power to being nothing more than a pipe of information. Users now chose their phone based on the capabilities that mattered to them, rather than the carrier. The carriers, realizing their demise, began to consolidate and rebuild, in hopes that they may establish supremacy in the marketplace once again…

The Empire Strikes Back

Smartphones are now the defacto standard for communication, and most cell phones are at feature parity. There has been little advancement in the phone industry. The once secret weapon — the IPHONE — was now commoditized due to major platforms catching up with the capabilities of the device. Users soon knew that their next phone purchase would be dependent on the health of the ecosystem of apps and connectivity to other devices, not just with the phone itself.

Carriers and members of the EMPIRE have observed this shift in the marketplace, upgrading their networks to try and come up with new incentives for consumers to reconsider their network choice. Smartphones use vast amounts of data, and always on connectivity is the standard for many applications that people depend on.

With cellphone features advancing at a slower pace, carriers are differentiating their services with faster speeds, but they continue to raise prices on users. People are more demanding about performance than ever before, and the RESISTANCE has no control over this domain. The EMPIRE looms over other services as well, like cable TV, bundling their services to entice users to join their networks. Users, tricked into believing they are “cutting-the-cord”, are effectively renegotiating complex contracts to latch onto the most valuable resource — data…

Coming Soon: Return of the Jedi

The EMPIRE still controls the data usage in the galaxy, enslaving people to pay large sums of money for data. Smartphones continue to grow hungrier for connectivity, and applications become more demanding. The web itself calls on too many external services, filling the pipes with junk that users never asked for. The dark times of communication and the internet have returned.

Networking technologies have started to take prominence, with MESH NETWORKING entering the consumer home. RESISTANCE companies see the opportunity to create always-on, always-connected devices that enable smartphone users to remove their need from data plans. If people use less data, then perhaps balance can be restored once again.

Meanwhile, new leadership in the resistance is emerging, looking to the stars for the next frontier. If the only route to leveraging data is the existing pipes today, perhaps new forms of communication will need to be invented to cease control from the empire. A team of brave engineers have begun the work to develop a fast, battery-saving network independent of the empire, available for free as a service to all buyers of the devices…

Now would be a good time to be in the networking and space communication business, no?