When the story about Verizon's announcement of the opening of its network and platform was posted online by the Wall Street Journal, it was already a few hours old. Ben Worthen had been outpaced by Om Malik who offered a much clearer analysis of what the move by the US wireless company meant to the public in GigaOM with not one, but two posts.
This is not the first time Om Malik does a tremendous job reporting on technology. He had a great post on the Skype Outage a few months back, one that clearly demonstrated a greater passion for the topic than traditional media. As was the case back in August with 41 comments for the Skype post, his coverage of the Verizon news was rewarded by 18 and 61 comments respectively. The reason for the comments is two-fold:
- Om Malik has built a reputation of swift and easy to understand coverage for technical news
- The community of GigaOM readers is just as passionate about the topic as the writer and they will support each other in the discussion
This is a hard lesson to take for news writers who are used to thinking that the coverage is done when the post is written. With new media, that is only the beginning. As Malik demonstrated with the Verizon story, there was opportunity to come back to it with further implications after the initial announcement. In his first post early in the day, Malik terms this as "a huge announcement: akin to Mikhail Gorbachev responding to President Ronald Reagen’s call to bring down the walls."
Contrast Malik's analysis in the first post (one of the reasons I too felt skeptical about the move):
One minimum technical standard: the phones (or devices) have to be based on CDMA standards, not the more popular GSM standards. Further thoughts on this later, after the press conference. One thing is clear: Verizon and other incumbents are very, very worried about the siren call of “open networks” and are reacting. My inner sync also thinks that this could be a PR move that will help Verizon win the 700 MHz auction. Verizon can always point to the “openness” as a way to counter Google.
With part of the story by Worthen at the WSJ:
The obvious trigger for Verizon’s decision is Google’s plan to build tools that will let anyone develop software for mobile devices. In Google’s world view, mobile devices are about to go through the same sort of software boom that PCs went through over the last decade. There’s no telling what developers will come up with, but Google is betting that they’ll come up with interesting and innovative stuff that people will want to use.
As a small aside, I had talked about how I thought the negotiations Steve Jobs had with AT&T for the iPhone as the precursor of greater flexibility for US wireless customers -- Steve Jobs may have managed to change the phone maker/cell carrier relationship for the first time in years. And now Verizon joins the fray on the heels of Google's grand mobile ambitions.
In the second post, Malik takes the opportunity to dig a bit deeper on his commentary about the news, breaking it down in four parts:
- Why is Verizon doing this?
- What it means for wireless customers
- Why I am still skeptical (but will change my mind if change does happen)?
- Why my inner cynic says: Don’t believe the hype (but disregard if you think I am, by nature, a pessimist).
With hard questions that demonstrate an understanding of the issues at play, opinions captured in bullet point format and clear language, concrete examples and a dash of humor, Malik delivers.