BlackBerry CEO John Chen has not only weighed in on net neutrality, but bizarrely face-huggered the idea of 'app neutrality' into his statement as well. In other words he thinks Apple should be mandated to make iMessage for BB10 phones. From the BlackBerry blog:
Unfortunately, not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality. Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple's iMessage messaging service. Netflix, who has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them. Many other applications providers similarly offer service only to iPhone and Android users. This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users can access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.
Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet.
The blog post is adapted from a letter sent to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, the Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Ranking Committee Members.
I love BlackBerry. They're Canadian, like me, and they bought QNX and gave it a human interface, which is incredibly cool. I wish they had other lines of business to support them, the way Windows Phone has Office and desktop Windows. Instead of Samsung rumors, if they do sell, I hope very much it's to another Canadian company — No, not Tim Horton's or lululemon! — that can provide similar support. I hope it's to someone who can give them the room and the runaway to make products so compelling the Netflixes of the world race to make apps for them.
(I've written before about why there's no iMessage for Android, or no FaceTime. It's not the business Apple's in, and also why I think something like iTunes for iCloud is more likely when it comes to future cross-platform support.)
But there's a huge difference between fair and equal transport of content and information and the forced production of that content. iMessage and BBM should both have equal access to the internet, but Apple should no more be forced to make iMessage for BlackBerry than McDonalds should be forced to make Big Macs for Burger King or Joss Whedon should be forced to make a Justice League movie for Warners, or BlackBerry should be forced to make BBM for Tizen.
It really does suck that Netflix isn't available as a native app for BB10 and that Google refuses to make most of their apps for Windows Phone, but the idea of 'app neutrality' doesn't fix that. Making a phone that hundreds of millions of people just have to have fixes that.
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