Wireless phone carriers and the makers of hand-held gadgets like the BlackBerry have long had a symbiotic relationship. Carriers sell the BlackBerry to subscribers, putting it in the hands of millions. In turn, the carriers get to charge their subscribers not just for voice but for pricier data service as well.
Now, a turf war is looming between the two camps, as lucrative new services such as video, games, and maps move onto mobile devices. Each camp wants to control the new offerings, and the gusher of revenue they could produce.
At stake for consumers are what services will be available on their mobile phones and whether they’re free or cost a monthly fee. The wireless Web is taking off more slowly in America than overseas, and one reason is that U.S. carriers tightly control what applications are available on mobile devices. That’s a contrast with Europe and parts of Asia, where carriers’ control is less tight and where wireless services have been more broadly available for years.