OMG! Opening the Handset market 2.0

By Carl Ford November 24, 2010

Whenever I travelled to Europe, I would suffer from SIM jealousy. Home in the states I would see a phone and have to see who was offering it to go look at it. While in Europe I could choose a phone and then select a carrier.

Seems pretty simple right? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Carriers are not always forthcoming with their requirements and the RFP once signed often represents a merger of some proprietary strategies.

This can make developing services problematic particularly if you have goals of supporting multiple markets with you solution (and perhaps independent of any one carrier).

The Open Market Handsets [OMH] initiative by CDMA Development Group [CDG] provides a framework for handset devices (and for that matter any CDMA SIM capable M2M solution) to jump start the deployment by relying on the SIM chip to host and normalize the information associated with provisioning and configuration.

As an operations oriented, recovering bell head, I understand that the more you can mask the internals of the carries legacy systems the quicker you can come to market. 

And for CDMA opportunities there is lot of growth that has to be addressed. In India and other parts of Asia and Africa for the next two years the market is going to be expanding by about 40 Million handsets. 

But beyond the growth is the opportunity for some MVNO strategies and application developers to have a standard model in place that can work independent of the carrier and the handset.

While many are Apple crazy and others are ogling Google’s Android, these are markets that are not owned by either of those two companies. So the independence of open market handsets represents some strong opportunity.

On the M2M side, Qualcomm has developed GOBI solutions that are OMH compliant. While I have friends in the U.S. that will tell you that WiFi is everywhere in the rest of the world, it is not so prevalent and GOBI represents a data service that can be tapped into beyond the boundaries and wherever your cell phone works.

On the apps side, the standard answer is Brew and Java. While this sounds far afield for many people in the US market, both of these platforms were delivering applications before Apple caught the consumer’s eye. However, looking at the OMH World website, I have noticed that many of the applications in existence are from India and are webcentric already. 

IMHO, if you can develop a java based application on the web, the handset solution using java should be familiar and easier to port.

On December 1st at 11’ oclock at nite, I am going to moderate a webinar about OMH that will feature John Stefanac   President Qualcomm Southeast Asia and Pacific.

We are calling out to our friends in Asia and Africa to join us on the call whether you are a service provider, a developer, device manufacturer or a company looking to take advantage of the future of communications.

Carl Ford is a partner at Crossfire Media.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

Partner, Crossfire Media

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