Change law to help us, demands Blackberry chief

Canadian company chief seeks app neutrality to make applications for Blackberry devices too

GN Bureau | January 22, 2015

How much a government can interfere or make rules to lift an ailing corporate giant? Asking the US Congress to implement ‘application neutrality,’ Blackberry Ltd. CEO John Chen has sought a law to force app makers to provide a version of their apps that would work on Blackberry devices.

In a bizarre argument, he wants legislators to widen the definition of net neutrality to include ‘application neutrality’, under which, if a company makes an app for iOS and Android, they must also make a version for BlackBerry and all other operating systems.

 “During the past 15 months [Blackberry] has stabilized and introduced a variety of new products as we pivot away from our prior reliance on hardware to become a full-service, device-agnostic provider of highly secure and productive software and services” Chen says in a blog post on BlackBerry’s site that was adapted from a letter Chen sent to several members of Congress.

 “Key to BlackBerry’s turnaround has been a strategy of application and content neutrality,” Chen writes. He cites the fact that Blackberry Messenger (BBM) has been made available for iOS and Android devices, but other companies have not made their applications available for Blackberry.

“Apple does not allow BlackBerry or Android users to download Apple’s iMessage messaging service” Chen writes, before next targeting Netflix “which has forcefully advocated for carrier neutrality [but] has discriminated against BlackBerry customers by refusing to make its streaming movie service available to them.”

This has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem where iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems, he says.

“ These are precisely the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level.”

“Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All…applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system,” Chen demands.

The Canadian company was once king of mobile devices world over. Its market share fallen below 1% with Android platform dominating at over 80% smartphones running on it.



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