Google dominance bad for mobile, says Colao

John C. Tanner
17 Feb 2010

Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao kicked off the Mobile World Congress Tuesday with a call for open platforms and more competition across the value chain – especially the parts that Google dominates.

The Vodafone CEO said that for mobile broadband to really move forward, the industry had to “get some things right” first – such as a more competitive value chain.

Colao said that while there was plenty of competition in most links of that chain - such as network operators, devices and apps development - search and advertising was dominated by Google and, to a lesser extent, Yahoo, with 80% of the market.

“From a public policy perspective, this is something that should be looked at,” he said. “We need to ensure that all players in the value chain are open and competitive.”

Colao voiced similar concerns over the dominance of fixed-line networks, which he said commanded from 60% to 80% of telecoms cashflow in a given market.

Colao said the industry needs to develop a framework that emphasizes viable competition (including MVNOs) and an open approach that allows apps to go cross-platform at the customer’s convenience.

Apps should be able to cross to other environments, “because portability of personal data will be an important issue,” Colao said.

In an apparent swipe at AT&T’s feud with Google over its Google Voice app, Colao also said the framework should do away with discrimination against similar apps.

“If you want to run a VoIP app and a third party wants to compete with their own app, they should be allowed to do so,” he said.

Colao added that Vodafone had done its part in spearheading open platforms, both on its own and in its capacity as a founding member of Joint Innovation Lab.

“We’re open to all OSs and app stores and we’ve opened our billing system to developers and content owners,” he said. “

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