Signs of a dying business model. $S $VZ $T

My wife doesn’t text short-codes for jokes of the day, ring tones, or backgrounds. So when I started getting recurring charges for Thumbplay, I was puzzled: Complaints – Unauthorized charge.

It seems that the carriers enable Thumbplay to latch onto a user’s account without a reasonable opt-in process. The only recourse is for the phone subscriber to request a refund of the charges and formally/explicitly request to opt-out of the service.

This is a sign that your business model is failing. If you’re depending on a 30-70% cut of 3rd party billing that your average user either won’t notice or won’t ask to have canceled, then you have lost sight of how to actually make money by providing a valuable service to the user.

Carriers’ days are numbered. Why?

  • Google Voice – blocked by Apple or AT&T or whomever. The iPhone initially blocked all VOIP applications from using the phone network, with some enabled when connected to wireless (such as Skype). Imagine if you rarely used a voice carrier for voice calls.

…ideas that can be “dangerous” with a little Sci-Fi vision applied:

  • Mesh Networking – I originally saw this described in the context of OLPC, but I think the real power is if wireless saturation becomes such that wireless carriers are no longer useful in areas where the average household is within wireless range of the next nearest household.
  • Google Tablet – What if Google’s mission was to proliferate its own ad-hoc infrastructure, and the Google Tablet was a means of doing so? Picture this:
    • Google patents technology which splits the wireless network device into two virtual devices: One for local wireless communication and one for mesh networking.
    • The phone operating system version of Google Android can tap into the mesh network.
    • The Google Android phone could then operate without a wireless carrier.
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