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Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS

Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS

Posted Feb 25, 2013 13:16 UTC (Mon) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167)
In reply to: Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS by boog
Parent article: Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS

I think this pundit might be just as wrong as the people they're criticising.

The situation where the operators are gatekeepers ceased to have any technical significance (e.g. frequency compatibility) some years ago in almost all regions. For a period after that it continued because the operators had set things up so that you couldn't get competitive prices without buying the telephone and the service together at the same time (from the same greasy salesperson who gets a cut). Now it exists only by tradition, and that's very fragile.


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Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS

Posted Feb 25, 2013 14:02 UTC (Mon) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

Everyone likes to criticise Tomi Ahonen, but he always makes very good points. One important point about relationships with carriers/operators is that if you have their support, you have their promotion of your products, and the operator is for a large proportion of customers - especially those wanting high-end products - where they will be buying those products.

Where I live there is a lot more television or billboard advertising for operators than there is by the likes of Apple, Samsung or Nokia, although Samsung have certainly spent a tidy sum, and a lot of that advertising features actual handsets and not (or not merely) details of various plans. It wouldn't surprise me if various adverts that I thought were Samsung ones were actually ones for operators albeit with some Samsung money involved. Indeed, between the different operators, there isn't much to choose between when it comes to plans, so it's mostly a game of name recognition and showing a nice gadget next to your logo.

Forgetting the frequency compatibility argument because that surely hasn't been particularly relevant in most markets for a decade or two, the tradition of buying from operators is sustained by things like convenience and easy finance: you get a new phone in one transaction and you can persuade yourself that it didn't cost you very much (or that you would rather live with the deferred costs). The fragile part of the operators' power is the part where they tell the manufacturers what to put in each product, but the more sensible operators will have already figured out by now to just shut up and take the money (for the superfluous services being offered to the punters that they will never fully use).

Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS

Posted Feb 25, 2013 20:31 UTC (Mon) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

For a period after that it continued because the operators had set things up so that you couldn't get competitive prices without buying the telephone and the service together at the same time (from the same greasy salesperson who gets a cut).

Over 90% of buyers still buy mobile phone from the same greasy salesperson who gets a cut. Sure by now it's not just carriers shops, but also independent ones (like Apple Shops, for example), but without carriers these shops will not be able to offer you phone with a SIM card and this will exclude majority of buyers.

Now, it's true that you don't need all the carriers on board but you need at least some and, more importantly, you don't need carriers which will actively block sales of your phone (as happens with Windows Phone after Microsoft's Skype buyout).

SIM

Posted Feb 26, 2013 0:00 UTC (Tue) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

"without carriers these shops will not be able to offer you phone with a SIM card and this will exclude majority of buyers."

Huh? Getting the SIM with the phone mattered twenty years ago when people were buying their first mobile phone. But everyone has a phone now. The SIM is a removable component. You buy a new phone, you take the SIM out of the old phone (and then sell, recycle, or scrap it) and put it in the new phone.

I actually doubt your "over 90%" figure anyway, and I'd like to see where you got it from. A lot of the world's subscribers aren't using an operator that even has such stores, it's cheap to set up a "virtual" operator which has no substantial physical presence, just a unique identifier and a website to sell SIMs. Maybe you put up a Polish site and you sell into the UK. You pay the UK operators for coverage, you bulk-buy capacity to Poland and your subscribers get a fixed rate deal to call home, plus customer service in their first language. No overhead for storefronts, no engineering effort to pointlessly "rebrand" things people don't want branded in the first place, just a nice service for a healthy profit. Add those up worldwide and it's hard to see where your 90% fits. FWIW I have _never_ heard anyone who uses such a service lamenting the difficulty of buying a handset, it just isn't an issue.

SIM

Posted Feb 26, 2013 10:17 UTC (Tue) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

You buy a new phone, you take the SIM out of the old phone (and then sell, recycle, or scrap it) and put it in the new phone.

Yes, but where do you buy that shiny new phone? In the shop which pissed the carriers off and now can't offer your contract with your new phone? Works for 2%, 3%, may be 5% of geeks, does not work for the majority of users.

I actually doubt your "over 90%" figure anyway, and I'd like to see where you got it from.

It's from 2011 and it was 98% back then. I think situation is slightly different today, but not that much different.

A lot of the world's subscribers aren't using an operator that even has such stores, it's cheap to set up a "virtual" operator which has no substantial physical presence, just a unique identifier and a website to sell SIMs.

What does it change?

You pay the UK operators for coverage, you bulk-buy capacity to Poland and your subscribers get a fixed rate deal to call home, plus customer service in their first language.

This is great business plan but it only works till real UK carriers tolerate you business. And there are only handful of them, it's not that hard to piss them all off. Then your business will fly like lead balloon.

As I've said: you need at least some operators on your side. Not all of them. But without at least some — you are dead. That's why I was extremely skeptical about FirefoxOS last year and I'm still skeptical about Ubuntu.

SIM

Posted Feb 26, 2013 10:41 UTC (Tue) by mpr22 (subscriber, #60784) [Link]

If you want a brand new SIM-free phone, you buy it from a high street retailer (just-a-phone: £15; webphone: £40; qwertyphone: £60; Android phone: £80; PAYG SIM with £10 of credit: £10), or from that high street retailer's online mail order operation, or from the supermarket.

SIM

Posted Feb 26, 2013 10:55 UTC (Tue) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

And all these outlets sign deals with carriers anyway. Sure, if you are established player it'll be few years till carriers will can actually you (see Nokia) but for the new player carriers support is vital (see Palm's webOS).

SIM

Posted Mar 2, 2013 3:10 UTC (Sat) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

"And all these outlets sign deals with carriers anyway."

Er, no. What would the deal even say? You have to carry only certain brands of device in exchange for a pile of cash? That would be a magnet for regulatory oversight.

SIM

Posted Mar 13, 2013 20:48 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252) [Link]

Are you really that naive or just stupid? Contract says just what percentage dealer keeps to itself, nothing more, nothing less. It does not need to say anything else: people who don't know how to read between lines are getting the most unfavourable contracts and are quickly weeded out. Even better: you can just refuse to sell some "special limited deals" via this outlet (which makes it quite unattractive but is completely regulatory oversight-free because these deals are special and are limited).

Retail outlets play the favorites games with carriers and carriers play the same game back. Few dealers will risk carriers ire if they don't know if something will attract buyers or not: you lose the money and for what? For something with no track record? Yes, some small ones will eventually try everything (before going completely bust) and then, if thing will indeed attract buyers more respectable ones will risk selling it, too. Eventually the highly-desired features arrive at most shops even if carriers oppose them (think dual-SIM models), but this takes years. And FirefoxOS does not have years: window of opportunity is slowly but surely closes. It's already mostly closed and in 2-3 years it'll be gone.

SIM

Posted Apr 5, 2013 21:57 UTC (Fri) by tialaramex (subscriber, #21167) [Link]

The "read between the lines" thing has been done. It gets you prosecuted. Sure, you can make deals that could see senior management jailed or fines larger than your 10 year profits. I don't know why you'd do that, it seems like terrible risk management to me, but you can do that. Remember that if your plan is to use this to punish people who disobey you that means you're deliberately creating an army of people who know you've broken the law and probably aren't too happy about it. I don't know, that seems kinda dumb.

I am reminded of people telling me how "clever" they are to avoid capital controls (e.g. the US Federal government sees all 5+ digit US$ transfers out of the country). They do it by moving many smaller transactions. Too bad, evading capital controls in this way ("smurfing") is a serious criminal offence AND provides investigators with a good reason to go through your life with a fine tooth comb to figure out why you had so much money you didn't want them to see.

But my point was more fundamental than that. The retailer doesn't want any sort of contract, they keep 100% of the sale price of the phone already. They don't care about the service provider and its contracts, written in invisible ink or otherwise. Tomi is telling you about the US model, which is doubtless fascinating if your concern is solely the US, but when he tries to stretch to the rest of the world he resorts to hand waving. The 98% number you seem to be trying to rely on is hand waving. Tomi doesn't have such a number, it's as if he talked about an "800lb gorilla" - gorillas aren't actually so heavy as that, it's just a figure of speech.

Mozilla announces 18 carriers supporting Firefox OS

Posted Mar 14, 2013 2:06 UTC (Thu) by Baylink (guest, #755) [Link]

Not on CDMA carriers, it's not.


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