How Microsoft can break the logjam of carrier anti-innovation

In my column this week, I return to the subject of Microsoft — and suggest a way that the company can give its Windows Phone OS a boost.

Carrier subsidies are increasingly standing in the way of innovation.

“We’re drunk off the subsidy model,” IDC analyst Ramon Llamas told VentureBeat last week.

The lure of cheap, subsidized phones underwritten by massively long two-year contracts stands in the way of competition and innovation. The big carriers use their contracts to lock in profits and help limit the customer “churn” that would otherwise make their revenues too unpredictable. But those two-year contracts keep people from upgrading as quickly as they would otherwise, stifling handset makers’ ability to get the latest models in our hands.

Carriers also stifle OS upgrades, keeping you from upgrading to the latest version of Android because they don’t want to invest the time to make it work with a string of older phones: They’ve already got you locked in to a contract, so why would they want to make your phone any better than it already is?

The U.S. is not unique in its dependence on carrier subsidies, but it’s not the only way: In many European countries, for instance, people buy their phones and SIM cards separately, without long, onerous contracts.

Some carriers are starting to see this as a wedge issue. T-Mobile, for instance, promises to do away with contracts and subsidies altogether. The carrier sees it as a more honest, direct model, and I agree: I’m done with contracts. I recently paid $245 to get out of my contract with a large carrier after I had endless problems with its service and its phones.

In an earlier column, I blamed Microsoft for not being able to solve these problems. It was an unfair criticism, but it does reveal an opportunity for the Redmond, Wash.-based software company.

We need someone to break the logjam. Could it be Microsoft?

Instead of standing by and playing the same ballgame as every other mobile phone maker, Microsoft should take a page from Apple’s book and rewrite the game. It’s got the leverage, it’s got the installed base, and it’s got a powerful weapon: cash.

Read the full story: http://venturebeat.com/2012/12/11/dylans-desk-carrier-subsidies/

How Microsoft can break the logjam of carrier anti-innovation

Dylan’s Desk: Android hates me, and it doesn’t like you much, either


I’ve come to the conclusion that my Android phone hates me.

It probably hates you, too.

The breaking point came today when I tried to use my phone to Google the word “Edsel.” Instead of delivering the answer, my phone — a cheap LG model from Virgin Mobile — spontaneously rebooted itself.

I wasn’t exactly surprised, since my phone has a tendency to reboot without warning at least once a day. The irony didn’t escape me, however.

Read the rest: Dylan’s Desk: Android hates me, and it doesn’t like you much, either | VentureBeat.

Dylan’s Desk: Android hates me, and it doesn’t like you much, either

Dylan’s Desk: Pick up the phone now! Supercomputers are standing by

This column starts with the $3.4 billion acquisition of SuccessFactors by SAP, ties together “the cloud” with mobile computing, throws in a dash of futurism and somehow winds up with a reference to Glee.

Want to give your CEO an iPad? You probably also need web-based applications so she can do something with the tablet besides play Infinity Blade II. And that’s where the cloud comes in.

Of course, it helps that our mobile devices have unheard-of amounts of computing power. As Michio Kaku wrote in his book, Physics of the Future, a musical greeting card has more computational power in its tiny, disposable chip than all of the Allied forces commanded in 1945. A cellphone has more processing power than NASA had in 1969, and the PlayStation 3, which costs $300, has computing power comparable to a multi-million-dollar military supercomputer in 1997.

Kaku’s book came out in March, so those analogies are probably already obsolete by now.

“The old paradigm (a single chip inside a desktop computer or laptop connected to a computer) is being replaced by a new paradigm (thousands of chips scattered inside every artifact, such as furniture, appliances, pictures, walls, cars and clothes, all talking to one another and connected to the Internet,” Kaku wrote. “The destiny of computers is to become invisible.”

Read the whole thing: Dylan’s Desk: Pick up the phone now! Supercomputers are standing by | VentureBeat.

Dylan’s Desk: Pick up the phone now! Supercomputers are standing by