John Chen, the CEO of BlackBerry (pictured), claimed that some big names are going against the spirit of net neutrality with their approach to mobile apps and content.
“Unfortunately, not all content and applications providers have embraced openness and neutrality,” Chen wrote in an Inside BlackBerry blog post. He added that many app providers only offer services to iOS and Android devices.
Chen pointed out that a key element in BlackBerry’s turnaround is a strategy around application and content neutrality.
BlackBerry made its BBM messaging service available for Android and iOS in 2013 and more recently, Windows Phone. In addition, its mobile device management platform, BES12, supports iOS and Android devices, as well as BlackBerry devices.
However, other device makers and content providers aren’t taking the same approach.
Chen cited Apple’s policy of not allowing BlackBerry or Android users to download its iMessage system, which works in a similar way to BBM.
Online content provider Netflix, meanwhile, has “discriminated against BlackBerry customers”, according to Chen, by not making its movie streaming services available for BlackBerry devices.
Chen said this has created “a two-tiered wireless broadband ecosystem, in which iPhone and Android users are able to access far more content and applications than customers using devices running other operating systems” — something that net neutrality advocates have criticised at the mobile operator level.
“Therefore, neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet. All wireless broadband customers must have the ability to access any lawful applications and content they choose, and applications/content providers must be prohibited from discriminating based on the customer’s mobile operating system,” he argued.
The blog post was adapted from a letter sent to the chair people of several congressional committees in the US that are considering proposals around net neutrality made by President Obama and FCC chairman Tom Wheeler.
Chen’s comments attracted their fair share of scorn on Twitter. Gigaom’s David Meyer tweeted that he was “trying and failing to appreciate BlackBerry’s application neutrality plea as anything other than desperate nonsense,” while analyst Dean Bubley described it as a “ludicrous contribution to the net neutrality debate.”