MANILA, Philippines – BlackBerry CEO John Chen took net neutrality – the idea of treating all data equally on the Internet – for a spin on Wednesday, January 21, citing the need for changes that would allow all applications to be available on all platforms.
In a letter sent to the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation – adapted into a blog post on the BlackBerry website – Chen wrote about how net neutrality comprised two things – carrier and application or content neutrality – and why apps should be mandated into Net Neutrality as well.
Carrier neutrality – more commonly known as net neutrality – refers to how internet service providers should treat all data equally, without favoring or blocking particular products or data, whatever the source.
In his letter to the committee, Chen went on to include ‘Application/Content neutrality,’ a term he used to tackle a separate issue: how apps are exclusive to certain platforms.
He cited the BlackBerry Messenger as an example, saying how they opened it to users of iOS and Android in 2013, then said that it was unfair that Apple did not let BlackBerry Messenger users download and use iMessenger.
Chen also took to task Netflix for ‘discrimination’ when it refused to make a mobile app for the BlackBerry 10. Many more apps that are available for Android and iOS are unavailable for the BlackBerry operating system, limiting the content available to BlackBerry users.
Of this, Chen wrote, ““This dynamic 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. “
It is this dynamic that he says goes against the principles of neutrality. Chen further explained, “These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.” He proposed that every app should be available across all platforms.
Chen ended his letter saying that “neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet.”
Out of touch
Chen’s letter has received criticism for being out of touch with the mobile world.
In a BBC report, Martin Garner, senior analyst at market research firm CCS Insight, said many developers had to make hard decisions about expending limited resources for app development.
Garner explained, “As wearables, connected cars and smart TVs come into the market, each with multiple operating systems, the number of versions they may need to produce is growing.”
He also questioned how app regulations of that sort would take place, as well as who would decide which developers were included and what platforms fell into this scope. – Rappler.com
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