Another big Google influence
Google's brain trust was again trying to change the rules of the game. Behind the scenes, they owe a sizable debt to a man nearly unknown outside the geeky confines of cyberlaw. He is Tim Wu, a Columbia Law School professor who provided the intellectual framework that inspired Google's mobile phone strategy. One of the school's edgier profs, Wu attends the artfest Burning Man, and admits to having hacked his iPhone to make it work on the T-Mobile network.
Now, Wu's offbeat ideas are entering the mainstream. In February, he published a paper in the International Journal of Communication proposing a radical new vision of freedom for the U.S. wireless industry. He argued that the Federal Communications Commission should mandate that providers allow consumers to use any cell phone with any wireless operator, and install any programs they want on their phones as long as they were not illegal or harmful. "It would make a huge difference in the wireless industry," says Wu. "It will blow open the wireless market."