Could open be a competitive advantage?

As the Wall Street Journal reported today (in a story that remains behind the soon-to-be-demolished pay wall), Verizon has announced that it will open its mobile network to any device that meets a certain minimum standard — although it says it will continue to offer “locked” devices through its retail network. Like Cynthia Brumfield at IPDemocracy, I think this could be a pretty huge development.

It’s unclear whether this means that Verizon will be joining up with Google and its Open Handset Alliance/Android platform proposal, although Adam Ostrow at Mashable says the carrier was rumoured to be joining even before this latest announcement. In any case, Verizon’s move seems to suggest that being open is becoming a competitive advantage for companies in relatively mature markets such as mobile. That said, Om Malik seems somewhat skeptical of Verizon’s motives, and says open access could prove to be expensive.

As Adam notes, Verizon has clearly decided to forego short-term revenue gains in return for what it sees as longer-term benefits. An interesting choice. And when could we expect someone like Rogers or Telus or Bell Mobility to do the same kind of thing in Canada? Approximately never.

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