CCIA Using Hearsay to Fight T-Mobile Merger

The President of the Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA) Edward Black told The Hill Newspaper that an AT&T/T-Mobile merger would be bad for mobile application makers.  Black argues that “app” makers are being stifled by mobile carriers and that AT&T has a history of “stifling innovation”.  It seems Mr. Black isn’t very familiar with how the app market actually works.

For one thing, AT&T doesn’t make the rules for application makers.  The carriers might get upset when a single application takes down a wireless network, but it’s phone makers like Apple that impose limitations.  For example, Apple doesn’t allow app makers to duplicate Apple iPhone’s native functionality.  But Apple’s dominance is slipping in the smartphone space as Samsung sold more Android smartphones in Q2-2011 and Google’s Android OS now holds twice the market share as Apple iOS according to a Nielsen Mobile Insights study.

Not only do app makers have a lot more freedom with Google Android, app makers are highly coveted by mobile operating system (OS) makers.  Microsoft goes as far as paying developers to write applications for their Windows Phone 7 OS.  When Microsoft prematurely announced Angry Birds for Windows Phone 7, they were mercilessly rebuked by app maker Rovio.  This hardly sounds like the nightmare scenario painted by Mr. Black where app makers are too intimidated to speak out against carriers and phone makers.

Black claims that companies publicly supporting the AT&T/T-Mobile merger are actually privately opposed to it, but are afraid to speak out.  For years, many tech companies openly lobbied against AT&T on issues like “Net Neutrality,” so the source of this sudden fear of AT&T is unclear.  More importantly, the Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), which represents app makers, filed comments in May 2011 in favor of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger, because it would bring more 4G to the table.  That will in turn drive demand for smartphones, which will ultimately drive demand for more apps.  From the looks of things, the CCIA is trying to use hearsay to reverse official testimony.

  • Steve Crowley

    I suppose Sprint and LightSquared being CCIA members drives some of this. According to CCIA’s web site, “While some trade associations have hundreds or even thousands of members, CCIA’s membership consists of a few dozen companies that receive individual attention. Our staff works to understand the strategic direction of each member.”

  • George Ou

    The CCIA is an “interesting” organization. I remember in the early part of the last decade, the CCIA pushed the crusade against the “monoculture” of software which was essentially an attack on Microsoft. They claimed that websites running a single web server would be susceptible to attack and that to allow the Internet to survive, websites should run multiple types of web servers.

    Of course this is preposterous from a cyber-security standpoint because websites are far more vulnerable if they run multiple server platforms because they’re exposed to software vulnerabilities and configuration errors of both platforms rather than a single platform.

    But the CCIA campaign against the “monoculture” was getting some momentum and it was apparently a problem for Microsoft. The problem and anti-monoculture campaign went away soon after Microsoft joined (i.e., funded) the CCIA.

  • Steve Crowley

    With 23 members (which they characterize as a “few dozen”) it sounds more like a lobbying boutique that works on a subscription basis than a trade association. I wonder how many policymakers and how much of the press realize it doesn’t represent the “computer and communications industry” as, say, TIA or CEA represent theirs.

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