BlackBerry CEO prods regulators for 'app neutrality,' wants cross-platform iMessage

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2015
Comparing the net neutrality debate to the expansion of railroads in the 20th century, BlackBerry CEO John Chen on Tuesday called for authorities to force companies such as Apple and Netflix to make their services available to all consumers, regardless of platform.




"The carriers are like the railways of the last century, building the tracks to carry traffic to all points throughout the country," Chen wrote in a blog post adapted from a letter sent to members of Congress. "But the railway cars travelling on those tracks are, in today's internet world, controlled not by the carriers but by content and applications providers. Therefore, if we are truly to have an open internet, policymakers should demand openness not just at the traffic/transport layer, but also at the content/applications layer of the ecosystem."

Chen specifically called out Apple's iMessage and Netflix as examples of two popular services which are not available to consumers running BlackBerry devices. Developers' preference to support only the two largest platforms has created "a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems," he argues.

As expected, Chen pointed to BlackBerry's own "content neutrality" strategy, which has seen the company open up both BlackBerry Messenger and BlackBerry Enterprise Server to iOS and Android. That is a relatively recent tactic, however, as both services were only available to BlackBerry subscribers for nearly a decade after their introductions.

The decision to open up BBM was reportedly a source of major internal strife at BlackBerry, with company co-founder Jim Balsillie pushing hard for the move and severing all ties to the company when then-CEO Thorsten Heins killed the plan in 2012. Only after the abject failure of BlackBerry's 10-series smartphones, which left the company even further behind Apple's iOS and Google's Android devices, was the program reinstated.

Chen was a prominent figure before taking the reins at BlackBerry, and the company remains a major player in the enterprise. Neither of those are likely to help push through the idea of "app neutrality," however, given the economic burden it would place on smaller companies and the highly intrusive nature of such regulation.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 138
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    For a stupid person, Mr. Chen sure says dumb things.
  • Reply 2 of 138
    I mean... Sometimes I get mad I can't order a Big Mac at Burger King too...
  • Reply 3 of 138
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,972member
    philboogie wrote: »
    For a stupid person, Mr. Chen sure says dumb things.

    How is that any different when many here were asking for a cross platform BBM?

    Edit: I misread the article, and have since amended my thoughts.
  • Reply 4 of 138
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    justp1ayin wrote: »
    I mean... Sometimes I get mad I can't order a Big Mac at Burger King too...

    1000
  • Reply 5 of 138
    This is a funny petition since bb messenger was one of the point of branding and sales for them. They opened their bb messenger to other platforms when the company was broke already. They could have become whatsapp if they'd opened on time. Now that nobody wanna buy their devises they are trying to make the competition play nice with them... just sad.
  • Reply 6 of 138
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,435member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    How is that any different when many here were asking for a cross platform BBM?

    Global market share has seen a decline. It may have been a relevant request... back then.
  • Reply 7 of 138

    So every independent app developer would have to support every single operating system that exists?

  • Reply 8 of 138
    The ramblings of the CEO of a dying -- if not already dead -- company. Pathetic. If he thinks that cross-platform apps will revive his carcass of a company, I've got some beachfront property to sell him in Arizona.
  • Reply 9 of 138
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,974member

    Railroads aren't a particularly good analogy for the internet of today. Freight trains own the rails, with passenger trains only allowed on tracks when freight trains aren't running. Not all tracks are open to every train company, in fact most tracks can only be used by the train company that owns them. The home delivery lines are the only ones really owned by the internet companies and the only ones that really matter. iMessage and Netflix are like specialized locomotives traveling on all the tracks. They are owned by individual companies and used by people who use that company's products. Just because they run on the same tracks as other locomotives doesn't mean the other company's locomotives have any right to the special products Apple and Netflix have. Use a car analogy. Subaru, VW and Porsche all use variations of flat engines. Just because they do doesn't mean Ford or Chevy should automatically be given these engines to use in their cars. Companies don't have to share, this isn't kindergarten, it's post school companies can do what they want to do within reason. iMessage and Netflix services are not "standards" so they don't have to be shared. BB is trying to stay relevant and they can't. That's the bottom line of this whole article.

  • Reply 10 of 138
    jm6032jm6032 Posts: 147member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post



    For a stupid person, Mr. Chen sure says dumb things.

    I agree. If we take Mr. Chen's metaphor a bit further: Yes, the carriers are a bit like the railways of the past and have the tracks. But, Mr. Chen seems to lack a fundamental understanding that on these tracks are railcars. These are standard railcars. What goes into these railcars is strictly the business of the shipper and the receiver and not Mr. Chen or anyone else.

  • Reply 11 of 138
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    How is that any different when many here were asking for a cross platform BBM?

    So you can't see the difference between ASKING for BBM to come to other platforms and a company being FORCED to bring it to that platform?

    Am I even surprised you'd make such a comment?
  • Reply 12 of 138
    dachardachar Posts: 330member
    So for years when BB had a significant market share they did not share their message software but now they have lost their market they want others to be forced to include BBs platform? This from a company who raised their license fees so much that my employer was forced to give up BB and move to other platforms.
  • Reply 13 of 138
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,635member
    I kind of agree about iMessage (and BBM as it was a few years ago). The age of proprietary communication protocols tied to specific hardware vendors or operating systems has mostly been relegated to the dust, and just needs a final kick to put it completely down for the good of all. Same for FaceTime too, why isn't that on other operating systems, especially since it was released as an open standard /s.

    Netflix though, Netflix is an independent and platform agnostic company not in any way analagous to a public utility, so that doesn't really fly. They have no skin in the game of which manufacturer or OS is winning, they exist to serve customers in a way that earns a profit. If they don't want to produce for BBOS then that's their perogative.
  • Reply 14 of 138
    gustavgustav Posts: 823member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post





    How is that any different when many here were asking for a cross platform BBM?

    Many here weren't the CEOs of Blackberry's competitors. Their desire was purely personal. BB's desire is to stem the tide of defectors. While I can understand why he'd want Messages to be cross platform, it's still a bit ridiculous to expect it. There's nothing in it for Apple.

  • Reply 15 of 138
    Wanting everybody to be open is the strategy of the underdog -- it always has been.

    When Apple was the underdog, they cried for Microsoft to be more open so they could make Macs interoperate with Windows machines.

    When Google was the underdog, they cried for Apple to be more open so they could put their own apps on iPhones in a way that would allow them to control the experience.

    Now Blackberry is the underdog and they have switched to the "open and cross-platform" strategy (kinda like we are seeing from Microsoft with Office now).

    Look at Google today, the majority of what people think of as "Android" is actually part of Google Play Services. It is proprietary, closed, and when licensed from Google by OEMs carries a whole lot of stipulations. Taking "Open" Android and making it a viable mobile operating system is a herculean effort. Only Amazon has really managed to do it in the main stream. You have to go without the Google Play Store, Mapping services, and a host of other things that require Google Play Services to be installed. And Google Play Services requires you install a bunch of Google Apps (like Gmail) prominently on the home screen and don't offer competing services for things like geo-location.

    Why is Google abandoning the "open" route? Because "open" is a non-defensible position. It is the position that allows your competitors to take advantage of what you create to make their business better. Your competitors with smaller user bases are more nimble because they don't have to worry about backwards compatibility so much. They can easily sacrifice the existing customer base if they become disgruntled for a potentially much larger future customer base.

    "Open" is a sucker's game. When you hear users crying for "open" and "cross-platform" they are doing it from a user's perspective. When you hear businesses crying for "open" what they really mean is "make my company's technology better at the expense of the market leaders"
  • Reply 16 of 138
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,328member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    How is that any different when many here were asking for a cross platform BBM?

    Seriously? You can't tell the difference? No one was demanding that Blackberry open up BBM. It was Blackberry that decided to do that. They did it because there aren't enough Blackberry users to support it, and they still think that they can monetize it with Ads, subscription fees, or both. That's nuts! But BBM's user base hasn't grown since the first quarter it came out. It's essencially, a failure. So now he's demanding that other companies be forced to support Blackberry. That's a big difference. If users of iPhones and Android devices and Win Phone said that they wanted to be able to use BBM, that would be one thing, but they didn't. And if they did, that would be asking Blackberry to support their platforms, not a demand that the government force them to do it.
  • Reply 17 of 138
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,328member
    So every independent app developer would have to support every single operating system that exists?

    Well, he was talking about major services, not every minor app. So GMail, iMessage, Android messaging, Netflix, and some other major services.
  • Reply 18 of 138
    Who is John Galt?
  • Reply 19 of 138
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,972member
    So you can't see the difference between ASKING for BBM to come to other platforms and a company being FORCED to bring it to that platform?

    Am I even surprised you'd make such a comment?

    Apologies, I missed the forced part. In that case it is indeed very different. Sounds like sour grapes on his part. There's no shortage of cross platform messaging apps, and I don't feel we need yet another one.
  • Reply 20 of 138
    melgross wrote: »
    Well, he was talking about major services, not every minor app. So GMail, iMessage, Android messaging, Netflix, and some other major services.

    Well I think companies should do what's in their best interest. Why lose money on developing a bbm app to never see a return in your investment.

    In somewhat related news, Chase bank is pulling their Windows app... They already don't have a blackberry app. If a company that wants to reach as many people as possible is limiting who they distribute to, it's definitely because there is no upside to develop for them
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