"The rise of converged devices will have a huge impact on operators. More functionality in devices at the edge of the network makes it harder to monetize the network in the middle. My Treo is technically a SprintPCS phone, but I don't view it that way any more than I think my laptop belongs to Comcast, my home broadband provider. With voice-over-IP, WiFi, number portability and the inevitable unbundling of phones and wireless networks, operators will get retain even less control. Multi-year contracts and SIM locks will only hold back the tide so long.
Where the Money Will Be
In the new world, the money will be in applications on the edge devices, hardware sales, and of all things, dumb connectivity. The first wireless operator to execute the Dell/Wal-Mart model -- being the efficient commodity provider, with a great brand -- will make a killing. (Partly because they will kill their competitors.) Not that this is an easy task. Legacy billing systems and legacy culture are huge hurdles to overcome, and the ideas of 'owning the customer' and 'delivering value-added services' are deeply embedded in operator DNA."