The Global Marketplace
The news that the GSMA is embarking on a huge 'mobile broadband' campaign, which plans to pre-enable thousands of devices with data access 'out-of-the-box' shows that the GSM industry is worried.
On the premise that these devices will actually work out of the box, with minimal hoops to jump through to get up and running then it might work as an alternative to WiMax. The key is going to be ease of use.
Whichever network is easier to connect to and most reliable, i.e. passes the 'it-just-works' test, will be the one that succeeds in the end (assuming competition keeps cost as a marginal discriminator).
We are already seeing the move away from value-add from the network access side. How many of Apple or Google or Blackberry's services depend on the network provider for anything other than 'dumb-pipe' and voice?
The discriminators on Smart Phones are the applications, form factor, device features and access.
In the case of access, the measures are typically negative; for example, how long is the lock-in and how expensive is the data plan, what is the usage cap, etc?
The question the GSMA should be asking themselves is; Do Apple, Google, Blackberry, Nokia et al care which network you connect through, other than as a means to subsidise the roll-out of their devices to steal your customers?