Business Week has a nice profile on Tim Wu (see DailyWireless, Wu’s Net Neutrality: On the Media). His wireless-phone manifesto (pdf) was the inspiration for Google’s new mobile-software strategy, which includes the Open Handset Alliance, says Business Week:
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 (pdf), 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.”
The paper spread like juicy gossip around the Googleplex. Wu’s vision resonated because Google had become frustrated with phone companies that were blocking some Google applications from being used on phones attached to their networks. Like Wu, Google believes an alliance based on openness will trigger a new wave of innovation. “Tim helped us catalyze a strategy,” says Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google. “He’s a singular force in this space. You’re just seeing the start of what he’s going to accomplish.”
Here are some (supposedly) leaked screenshots of WhatsOpen’s secret project. The company has reportedly also written the first wireless app for Google’s new Android operating system.