Chen argues that net neutrality should force Apple to make Blackberry apps

Ben Parfitt
Chen argues that net neutrality should force Apple to make Blackberry apps

Blackberry CEO John Chen has tried to argue that President Obama's recent net neutrality rulings should have wider implications for the technology sector.

Specifically, in a bizarre open letter Chen has claimed that as well as having an open internet, we should also have open platforms – meaning he believes companies like Apple should be legally forced to release their apps on rival platforms such as Blackberry.

Most discussion [on net neutrality] has focused on telecommunications carriers and how they operate and manage their physical networks,” he said.

BlackBerry believes policymakers should focus on more than just the carriers, who are like the railways of the last century, building the tracks to carry traffic to all points throughout the country. But the railway cars travelling on those tracks are, in today's internet world, controlled not by the carriers but by content and applications providers.

Therefore, if we are truly to have an open internet, policymakers should demand openness not just at the traffic/transport layer, but also at the content/applications layer of the ecosystem. Banning carriers from discriminating but allowing content and applications providers to continue doing so will solve nothing.

For example, we opened up our proprietary BlackBerry Messenger service in 2013, making it available for download on our competitors' devices. Unfortunately, not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality.

Unlike BlackBerry, which allows iPhone users to download and use our BBM service, Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple's iMessage messaging service. Netflix, which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality, has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them.

This dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems. Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet.”

By that same logic Chen presumably thinks that developers should be forced to release games on all platforms. Will Obama force the next Super Mario title to be released on Xbox One and PS4? And maybe Blackberry, iOS and Android? And perhaps N-Gage and Atari Jaguar for those still rocking those systems?

Of course not.

It seems likely that Chen's effort to conflate net neutrality with the dearth of third party support for Blackberry will be greeted with a deafening silence and Chen's letter added to Blackberry's ever-growing list of gaffes.

Having peaked at $2.30 per share back in July 2007, Blackberry shares currently trade at 10.34 cents.

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