There are some videos and sound files making the rounds of the Internet featuring Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his usual over-the-top brand of hysterics. In one, he enjoins his audience to consider the significance of "developers, developers, developers, developers!" To Microsoft, developers are indeed a linchpin in its hold on corporate IT departments: Without them, there would be less reliance on the platforms on which they are building, namely Windows. But what is it that ties end users to Microsoft (besides lack of choice, that is)? To coin a phrase, its "services, services, services, services."
Last week, I illustrated Microsofts warped vision of a services-based world. Changes must take place before the services that everybody is counting on take hold.
This is especially true among wireless services. The paradox is that there cant be viable wireless services without a robust network and platform to build on. And there wont be a viable network/platform until someone can invent services that will make that platform worthwhile. Its kind of the chicken-and-egg thing, and thats what has slowed the development of wireless here in the United States.
As the report in our new Interactive Week section next week will point out, much of the trouble is a lack of coordination among vendors building the networks as well as unrealistic visions of what people or corporations will want once the networks are ready. If the vision is "multimedia for the mass market," then count me out. The example Im always given is that of a weary traveler who can dial up the news broadcast or weather report from his cell at the airport. Last time I looked, there was a TV around every corner in your average airport.
Its going to take serious, real innovation, cooperation, standards and studies about what should be done with 3G wireless networks to make it work. Not Norman Rockwell paintings about how neat it would be to watch a commercial from a digital handhelds video screen. Its got to be about more than just another platform for extending brands. Its got to be about real services.
How do you define real services? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.