Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wireless Phone Carriers -- Big Power Good for Consumers?

Today's front page of the Wall Street Journal features a must-read story by Jessica Vascellaro titled "A Fight Over What You Can Do on a Cellphone: Handset Makers Push Free Features for Which Carriers Want to Charge." Basically, the story addresses the growing skirmish between wireless phone carriers and handset makers over what features (including video) should be offered to consumers, when they should be offered, and whether consumers should pay for those services (the carriers say "yes" to the last question, whereas the handset makers want to offer up more and more services free of charge). Bottom line -- the rest of the world is far ahead of the U.S. in terms of rich services (such as high quality video) available to consumers in the mobile world -- and much of this is due to the unusual power of carriers in the U.S. But, according to Vascellaro, handset makers are beginning to act more aggressively in their dealings with the carriers, and this should prove to be a boon to consumers.

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