Last year I pondered what would become of large mobile operators like Vodafone who have spent gazillions on bandwidth that is increasingly being used to transport free VoIP calls. With a number of recent moves, Vodafone has shown that it is feeling the pressure.
As German tech journalist Markus Goebel points out in his blog here and here, Vodafone is trying to BOTH co-opt Internet calling with its Starfish service, and stop such calls by apparently disabling this feature on Nokia's N95 phone.
For how long will operators be able to stall the use of third-party VoIP clients on mobiles? This is one of several tests of wills that are brewing between mobile operators and the powerful handset manufacturers. Another test will be over the ownership of new mobile data services like GPS navigation and location-based services, local search and mobile advertising.
Vodafone doesn't want to be commoditised as the transport backbone, and Nokia doesn't want to be commoditised as the mobile PC. Both want a majority slice of the revenue generated from next-gen services. The battle promises to be interesting...
[Graphic: Lisa Haney]