I know I usually write about food on Fridays, but I think I”ll wait on my food post until next week. Instead, I want to give you a couple of things that this press statement brought to mind:
Slingbox, which would use large amounts of wireless network capacity, could create congestion and potentially prevent other customers from using the network. The application does not run on our 3G wireless network. Applications like this, which redirect a TV signal to a personal computer, are specifically prohibited under our terms of service. We consider smartphones like the iPhone to be personal computers in that they have the same hardware and software attributes as PCs.
Wow. See, the network is just the kid on the bicycle delivering the bits from device to device. Just as you can find a new kid to toss those papers into your bushes, those electrons can pass through someone else’s system pretty seamlessly. In this case, Apple‘s exclusive agreement with AT&T for the iPhone prevents that (let’s not get into the jailbreak stuff) for now, but agreements end, and there have been public reports of other carriers getting some version of the iPhone sooner rather than later.
Let’s forget the practical stuff. Here’s the crux of my thinking – if your customers are paying you to serve them, if they come to your network because you offer accessibility, high speed, and excellent service, then PROVIDE it. Give the people what they want – it’s why they’re there. Otherwise, the minute there’s an option to go elsewhere, they will. What’s particularly galling in this case is that no such restriction exists on Sling transmissions to other devices such as the Blackberry Bold, so maybe the “network capacity” argument doesn’t wash (yes, I know there are more iPhones…for now). It also blows away the handheld PC argument – the Bold can do much of what the iPhone does.
The one point that doesn’t go away is that of serving the people who buy your service, which AT&T isn’t doing. If the demand is there – users bought a Slingbox and an iPhone so they must want this pretty badly – the kid on the bike can’t be the one to say “no.”