A friend of mine questioned me about my views on walled gardens. She was confused about the difference between this and other more open business models. So I thought an analogy would help. After thinking about it a minute I came up with this:
How likely would you be to buy a PC, if the only software that worked on it came from Microsoft? It would be useful - Word, Powerpoint, Excel, Windows XP, and even Internet Explorer - but you'd never have Quicken, Quickbooks, TurboTax (ok, I've been thinking about my taxes a little too much - highway robbery I tell you), Photoshop, iTunes, and forget about Firefox, Adobe Acrobat, and Sling Player and on, and on.
This is the situation when you buy most mobile phones today. Only applications sanctioned by the carrier (Verizon, Cingular, etc) are available (think Verizon "Get it Now" - oy!). Smartphones like the Treo 700W are better, in that they can load anything for Windows Mobile - which is good - but the vast majority of handsets are closed, walled gardens, not open platforms for running lots of different, and highly useful third party applications.
That's what's wrong with a walled garden approach - and why opening up is such a huge opportunity for wireless carriers.