Wall Street Journal shows how startups and first-movers have been swallowed and squashed by the big firms (link good for one week): The Journal looks at the sweep of companies involved in Wi-Fi, from the earliest stages to the present, and how Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, and T-Mobile have figured out how to co-opt and buy in.
What's always been funny about Wi-Fi is that it's never been tiny companies or hobbyists who have developed the equipment, unlike some previous generations of grassroots technology. The chips, the gear, the firmware, it's all been made by relatively well-funded startups and spinoffs.
But as sales have grown, so has control by the usual parties. Since Wi-Fi is unlicensed and, so far, interoperable, that hasn't been a bad thing: it hasn't stifled innovation (companies still spring up on the periphery: Trapeze, Tropos, Vivato), or caused proprietary problems.
So far. So far.
Cisco's proprietary extensions that chipmakers have signed up for are one large thundercloud on the horizon. Secured/encrypted EAP for network authentication is another.
If the industry standards together, they rise together.