Elementary Dear Watson, the OTT Players Won’t Have it All their Own Way

For much of 2011 and 2012, it looked like mobile carriers were just the utility companies for the Web 2.0 economy. Apple with Siri, Google with its mapping and search capabilities, Facebook with its social networking clout… but we are now starting to see carriers fight back. The first time I started to hear about this possible reality was from the CEO of Korea’s Uplus 4G mobile carrier, Sangchui LEE, who talked about 4G enabling “rich media mash-ups” in mid-2012. More recently, AT&T held a Developer Summit at CES and it certainly seems AT&T is keen to get to that new rich media mash-up reality.

AT&T announced a swath of web technology initiatives. It became one of the first telecom companies to join the Openstack initiative, that enable cloud infrastructure through open tools. It is currently running 15 internal applications on its Openstack infrastructure – including its “API Platform”, “Watson Speech Engine” and a “Developer Center For Health”. It has also tacked its banner to HTML5 and webRTC. WebRTC supports the development of Real-Time Communications (RTC) capabilities via simple Javascript APIs. AT&T’s WATSON can convert human speech to text that can be readily interpreted by a device or other machine.

The OTT players may have the head start but a number of carriers are determined to innovate and take back some of the Web 2.0 initiative.