Fifteen years ago, AOL was actually kind of cool. It provided email, shopping, entertainment, and chat applications through a slow internet connection to millions of people. But over time, the popularity waned as people realized they’re better off bypassing AOL for the actual world wide web.
To me, this seems quite similar to the state of the mobile industry, including the iPhone today.
1. It’s slow.
2. The carrier acts as a gatekeeper to content and applications.
3. One of the most popular buttons is for the web, rather than the applications the provider thinks are important.
History seems to be repeating itself on the mobile Internet.
Based on Apple’s recent approaches to application approval, I get the impression that the transition from AOL-style gatekeeper to web surfing device will be faster than in the past. If Apple denies their users access to content they want on their phones, they’ll simply use their phones to find similar content on the web. Apple will train people away from the App Store.