Fortune interviews Scott Rafer (WiFinder), who knells doom for cell carriers' pricing models, but not cell itself: The crux of Scott's remarks are: [Rafer] faults the carriers, especially in Europe, for a hubristic presumption they can control their destiny. He says their "immature business planning processes" aren't prepared for a disruptive technology, because they've never really seen one in their industry.
I just had a long conversation along these lines with a fellow tech journalist at lunch today: the carriers believe that they control the vertical market, they control the horizontal distribution, and that market forces don't apply to them because who will challenge them? As the interviewer, David Kirkpatrick notes earlier in the article that on a conference call for a summit in January 2002 he asked cell carrier execs why they weren't talking about Wi-Fi. The general reaction: Wi-Fi would be important, but not for a long time, and didn't represent a major threat to incumbent carriers.
Wi-Fi's quasi-grassroots success stems from people wanting to own their own destiny. Two Wi-Fi radios are worthwhile, three a useful network, a few million and it's a revolution.
Rafer also points out that the carriers could have lunch eaten by those who seize on the potential: "Microsoft and Intel and Sony and others have realized they can't predict the outcome. So when they see a disruptive technology coming they bet on all sides of it, just like a venture capitalist. They know they have to continue to dominate, and whatever money they lose by betting wrong is lost in the profits from eventually winning." [via TechDirt]