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At a time when virtually everyone from the U.S. President to the general public are debating the issue of net neutrality, Canada-based Blackberry's CEO John Chen has come out calling for app neutrality – making it mandatory for app developers to offer apps on all mobile platforms.
In a letter sent to several members of Congress, Chen said that any net neutrality legislation must address both carrier as well as content/application neutrality.
Explaining his point, he compared the carriers to the railways of the last century, saying that while they build the tracks to carry traffic to all points throughout the country, the railway cars (referring to the applications) traveling on those tracks are controlled not by the carriers but by content and applications providers.
Chen trumpeted the fact that the company has made its BBM service available both on Android and iOS, while pointing that Apple still limits its iMessage service to iPhone users. He also took on Netflix, saying that while the online-video streaming company is strongly advocating for carrier neutrality, it has refused to make its streaming movie service available to BlackBerry users.
This explanation has CEO Chen cherry picking the facts that he considers relevant today, when BlackBerry phones are not being favored by consumers. He claims that the dynamic has created a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem that benefits only iPhone and Android users, adding that these are the sort of discriminatory practices that neutrality advocates have criticized at the carrier level. Yet he forgets when BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) was the de facto chat plafform for mobile users in many markets, and the company chose to ignore Windows Mobile, iPhone, and other competing or nascent mobile platforms.
"If we are truly to have an open internet, policymakers should demand openness not just at the traffic/transport layer, but also at the content/applications layer of the ecosystem," Chen said.