Nokia N95 - Not What the Wireless Carriers Had in Mind

It's been a Vonage-centric week for me, and I increasingly seem to be the go-to guy for the media when they make news (as you can see from my most recent media citings listed on the right side of this blog page).

Between that and project work, I'm a bit behind on other stuff, but wanted to comment on an item from yesterday that caught my eye.

Being part of the Nokia N Series blogger relations program, I get to trial some pretty cool phones. The latest is the N95, which I don't have yet, but others do. That said, I don't have to have the phone in hand to understand what N95 users are rightfully complaining about.

Andy Abramson posted yesterday about what's going on. The N95 has a lot of great features, with WiFi and Internet telephony being key. Well, it looks like some European mobile operators are disabling the N95's capabilities to make VoIP calls. Just basic self-interest at play here, of course. Why divert profitable minutes off your 3G networks to providers who are basically enabling free mobile calls?

So, just because you can do that, does it mean you should? That's the bigger question, and the one we really have be wary of. Oligopolies often behave in a manner that serves their interests first, and they do it because they can. With WiFi networks springing up like mushrooms, it's only a matter of time before mobile VoIP goes mainstream, and if you alienate the early adopter, you'll surely lose them when everyone is doing this. It's really no different from what the landline operators have gone through, and they're paying big time now that the cable operators have come to market with great VoIP and attractive bundles. History is going to repeat itself with wireless VoIP, and the incumbents can only put things off for so long.

Until that time comes, subscribers will be shortchanged, and downright angry when they lay out good money for breakthrough phones like the N95, only to find out the operators don't want them using some of the best features. Truphone is one of the mobile VoIP operators being affected by this, and there's a nice video on their blog that explains this in more detail.

Looks like this is a case where it doesn't pay to be ahead of the market, and maybe the N95 is here too soon. I would say the opposite, actually. WiFi is here today, and the sooner handset vendors bring these types of devices to market, the more consumers will realize that carriers aren't playing fair ball. It will take more than a few early adopters from the blogosphere to get the carriers to cry Uncle, so the sooner the better, I'd say.

Speaking of the Nokia N95, colleague Alec Saunders posted his review earlier today. He's a tecchie par excellence, and his review is really great, covering all the cool things you'd want to know about this fabulous phone. Can't wait to get mine, and will share my thoughts ASAP.

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