Mobilize: For T-Mobile, It's About Openness and Android

A Carrier PerspectiveMore than any other U.S. carrier, T-Mobile has led the charge when it comes to bringing Android-based phones to market — the company launched the G1, the myTouch, and now the Cliq. According to T-Mobile Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Cole Brodman, who spoke to Om onstage at our Mobilize 09 conference on Thursday, that’s because Android is the first platform that has lived up to the expectation of an open platform for the industry, one that brings together carriers, cell phone manufacturers and third-party developers. “I don’t see any other platform that is approaching it in the same way,” said Brodman.

Phone companies need to move away from the closed telco mind-set and more towards open, web-based infrastructure, said Brodman. The problem with the traditional closed telco model is that it takes way too long to get innovations to market, said Brodman, adding that, “I love the innovations I’m seeing on the Android platform.” The Android ecosystem is nearing 10,000 applications, he pointed out.

What is that open ecosystem creating? Brodman said he’s taken a fancy to some of the new apps that are becoming the front end, or a new window, to the mobile Internet. These type of applications can create a new experience for the mobile web user as they can look at a web page very quickly.

One issue that Brodman says still needs work is discovery, or helping people find these new applications. “We haven’t yet cracked the code of discovery,” said Brodman. But Google and others are working on this problem. T-Mobile can help with its retail stores, at least when the idea of applications is still in its early phase. Another way to improve discovery is if developers can make apps so they can be more easily shared.

While Brodman wouldn’t go as far as saying phone companies need to be “reinvented,” he said carriers definitely need to “evolve.” I think of T-Mobile as a communications company, Brodman said. In the world of communication, it’s all about being open to the message.

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