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European 'expert group' keeps eye on smart phone evolution

According to The Financial Times, a group of European mobile operators have banded together to create an “expert group” to keep an eye on the smart phone marketplace. More specifically, the group, which is made up of Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom, Telecom Italia, Spain’s Telefonica and the UK’s Vodafone, has joined to sound alerts on “unfair practices or evolutions that may limit the ecosystem openness and the customers’ freedom of choice.” The group is concerned enough to have already alerted the EU about an issue that they say is “of utmost importance” to handset manufacturers; although, the group also states that it has no evidence of any unfair practices.

The group was formed from an initial October 2010 meeting to discuss the impact of the Apple iOS and Google Android platforms in the smart phone marketplace. The fear is that the Apple and Google platforms will dominate the smart phone space, forming a duopoly in the region. Underlying this fear is the idea that Apple and Google’s handsets are a first entrée into dominating the mobile services industry. The Financial Times notes, however, that the European market offers plenty of competition, with the availability of Nokia’s Symbian OS, RIM’s BlackBerry and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. The operators also play a role in supplying handsets to customers and can weight their offerings toward other handsets.