There’s been a lot of talk about net neutrality lately, with carriers and other companies chiming in on where they stand on the issue. It should come as no surprise, then, that BlackBerry CEO John Chen shared his two cents on the matter. What may come as a surprise is what he said.
In a letter written to several prominent government figures and posted to the Inside BlackBerry blog, Chen briefly touches on net neutrality, saying that reclassifying broadband as a Title II service is “excessive.” He then goes on to say that if we want a free and open internet, any discussion on net neutrality should include both carrier neutrality and content and application neutrality.
Later in his letter, Chen explains that all mobile users should have access to the same applications if we want a free and open internet. The BlackBerry CEO gripes that we’re in a “two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem” in which iOS and Android users have access to more content and apps than users of other platforms. BlackBerry has made BBM for iOS and Android, but Apple hasn’t released iMessage apps for BlackBerry or Android, Chen explains. He’s also bothered by the fact that Netflix has “discriminated against BlackBerry customers” by not creating an app for his company’s platform.
“All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose,” Chen says. “And applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system.”
Chen makes some good points in his letter, saying things like “the carriers are like the railways of the last century.” However, net neutrality doesn’t involve making app developers create platforms that they don’t want to develop for. It would be nice if every app was available for every platform, but that’s not reality. iOS and Android get access to most major apps because those are the platforms that the majority of the public have chosen to use, and if Chen wants the same for BlackBerry 10, his company will have to give users and developers a reason to check out BB10.