Networks could learn a lot from King Canute.
It was nearly one thousand years ago that Canute the Great took his most sycophantic subjects down to the seashore and showed them that no matter how great his status among them it gave him no command over the onrushing tide.
In the 21st century networking giants Orange and Vodafone would do well to learn from his example.
Sadly however both companies appear to have flunked their history lessons since this week they have taken the remarkably short-sighted step of banning the VoIP capabilities in their flagship handsets. The decision – which affects the ubiquitous Skype and progressive newcomer Truphone, amongst others – arose following the launch of Nokia’s self proclaimed “mobile multimedia computer”, the N95 (above).
This dual slider ships with box loads of features including integrated GPS, a 5MP camera, WiFi and HSDPA but also – controversially – built in VoIP software. Both networks immediately saw the threat this could pose to its voice revenues and stripped the feature from the handset. This so incensed Truphone that it has posted a cautionary video on YouTube showing the difference between a sim free N95 and one purchased through Orange.
Interestingly here the big winners (apart from the networks) are likely to be remotely configured VoIP solutions like Fring. This app is a standalone client and therefore works independently from the disabled Internet telephony settings removed from the Orange and Vodafone N95 models.
Clearly the networks aren’t playing fair here but – as always in matters of technology – there is a simple way around.
Orange. Vodafone. Learn from Canute. There’s a tide of change coming, one that even you can’t hold back.