If you want to see why so many people can’t stand their wireless company, look no further than T-Mobile’s (DT) attempt in Europe to get the Skype app banned even over wi-fi from Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone.
It’s easy to understand why carriers think they need to be afraid of Skype, eBay’s (EBAY) Internet phone and messaging service. In theory, it could disrupt the carriers’ own phone and messaging services.
But it’s really not that bad. As we pointed out earlier this week, Skype on the iPhone is little to no threat to carriers. Tethered to wi-fi hotspots, it’s not nearly as convenient as real phone calls. And you still have to pay your phone bill whether you use the minutes or not.
The broader point is that people are running out of patience with carriers that want to micro-manage their behaviour. If anything, carriers should be thrilled that people are buying fancy iPhones, paying for mobile Internet service (which the vast majority of people still don’t do) and using their phones more extensively and intimately than ever before.
We’re happy with anything mobile carriers (or any companies) want to do to boost revenues and profits, whether it’s offering add-on “services” like mobile video or visual voicemail; advertising; new business models; whatever.
But restricting people from services that aren’t malicious and don’t severely disrupt carriers’ revenue collection — which Skype on the iPhone does not — is not going to help in the long run. (If anything, they should be more worried about Apple’s “push notifications” system, coming this summer, which could disrupt carriers’ lucrative text messaging businesses.)
Episodes like this are exactly why people flock to customer-minded companies like Apple and only want a reliable ‘dumb pipe’ voice and data connection from the phone company.