The head of mobile equipment maker Nokia Siemens Networks has slammed operators whose response to competition has been to appeal to the regulators.
Rajeev Suri, CEO of NSN, told a press conference on the first day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: "The question is familiar - how do we compete with Google? I have seen some operators respond in a disappointing way by throwing up their arms and appealing to the regulators.
"Competing with Google head to head is a bit of a fool's errand, but to suggest that operators are helpless is wrong. They have assets and control points that they can leverage."
Suri argued that network operators can use their ability to guarantee the quality of a network connection from end to end as a way of persuading application developers to share revenues. He also said that operators can use the customer data they gather to help them become value-added orchestrators of new services. The trust that customers tend to put in their mobile operators also puts them in a position to become information providers and payment brokers.
"Operators and over-the-top service providers both have assets and when they are combined smartly they can create growth for both."
In a later session on making mobile apps more intelligent, James Parton, head of developer relationships at mobile operator Telefonica, said that his company had recognised this and was offering a new relationship with app developers that would give them access to the company's 'crown jewels'.
The new Bluevia developer program is meant to enable what are known as 'two-sided' business models, in which both the app developer and the operator can make money from the user. The company has created an applications programming interface through which developers can create traffic for the network, such as ads, SMS and MMS messages, and VoIP sessions, and then receive a cut of their value from Telefonica. The developer can use these functions at no cost and with no commitment.
"For the first time you will see an operator share its crown jewels with developers at no risk," said Parton. "There's no stronger sign of our commitment."
Speaking on the same panel, Mike Kirkup, director of developer relations at Blackberry maker Research in Motion, said his company was about to enable carrier billing on its application store, so that applications developers have another way to make money.