BlackBerry wants more ‘app neutrality’

BlackBerry wants more ‘app neutrality’

BlackBerry's chief executive officer (CEO) has called for more "app neutrality" to level the playing field between the big players in the tech market.

John Chen, who took over as CEO in November 2013, said in a letter to a number of key members of Congress in the US – which was republished on the company's blog – that it is just and fair for this to happen.

He explained that the key to turning around the company's fortunes after a prolonged period of instability – or "turmoil" as he put it – has been its strategy of app and content neutrality.

"For example, we opened up our proprietary BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service in 2013, making it available for download on our competitors’ devices," Mr Chen noted in his letter.

"Tens of millions of iPhone and Android customers around the world have since downloaded BBM and are enjoying the service free of charge.

"Last year we introduced our secure BES12 mobile device management software, once again designed to manage not just BlackBerry phones but also available for enterprises and government agencies whose employees use iPhone and Android devices."

However, other providers of apps have been less than engaging in this approach, he continued, saying, for example, that Apple restricts BlackBerry and Android users from downloading its iMessage service. This inconsistency is unfair.

Mr Chen also criticised Netflix, which he argues says one thing and does another. While supporting carrier neutrality, the company has "discriminated againstBlackBerry" by preventing the latter's users from accessing the video streaming service from their devices.

"Neutrality must be mandated at the application and content layer if we truly want a free, open and non-discriminatory internet," Mr Chen advocated.

"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."