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24 May 2007

Where's the Telco in Web 2.0?

DISCLAIMER: There has been quite a bit said already about the challenges that convergence (of voice/data, wireless/wired, vendors, user-experiences, device types, etc.) brings to the telco industry, and how various players are, or are not, adapting to these challenges. The smart folks at Unstrung, Gartner, GigaOm, Telco 2.0 and others have thought, and written, long and deeply about these issues. I speak with some purely personal observations.

I'm an Interweb guy that worked for a big-4 US carrier for a few years, and lived to tell about it. I was one of the "Internet people" there, amongst a majority of "telco people". Back on the other side, and with a keen appreciation for how closely these two domains are tracking toward one another, I am struck again by the vastness of the schism between them. More significantly, though every carrier gives lip service to convergence, IMS, and the need for change, and everyone sees the writing on the wall, the opportunity for a name player in either space to take small but effective steps to rectify telco-land and Techcrunch-land remains on the table.

At the end of the day, if this is all going to get better, and if we're really going to see the next wave of mobile apps, we need to open the dialog. Why is there such a dearth of carrier discussion at all of the web 2.0 conferences (or, better, let's have some unconferences)? Why is it only a handful of bloggers that hit these topics regularly? (here's a great one) Why does the majority of the discussion on the future of mobile services from the blogosphere focus so much on the advertising model and on spectrum positions? There are any number of other topics we should be discussing at the community level, in the same way we discuss the virtues of this or that way to distribute music online, or who got how much VC money.

Others have started the dialog, here's to keeping it rolling!

tagged: technews