The wonderful thing about Apple and Google moving into the mobile space (how sad that I do not mention Microsoft* in the same breath) is that they approach it without the usual constraints and filters of the existing players.
Example 1: App Stores. Nokia has had Download! for years but needed Apple's fresh take on how it should be done to wake up and realise that its own realisation was poor and out of touch.
Example 2: Apple's iPhone completely transformed the way that phones look and the touch screen with the "pinch" is the most significant innovation in hardware design for many years. Again, no established mobile player could think so out of the box.
Example 3: Nokia makes Symbian open source in response to Android's shake up of the mobile OS layer. Why didn't it do so before? Because it was embroiled in the space and could not think without these limits.
There is an interesting storm brewing at the moment about the roaming costs of the iPhone and Android devices. One thing is that people are using them to browse more than is usually the case but added to that the apps on them are regularly connecting to their servers to report back on usage and to facilitate email download. You are only partially notified that this will happen when you download them and it is easily forgotten. So, you go abroad, barely use your phone and not for data at all because you know it costs you dearly, and still receive bill shock when the next one arrives.
So, whose problem is this?
Well, at the moment it is the consumers but it is interesting to see who will blink first:
The operator view is this is a phone issue and the manufacturer should fix it by allowing complete data disablement.
The web view is that this exposes poor customer value created by the operators and they should fix it.
The web giants are clearly in the right in this case as regards customer value. I suspect that they saw this one coming and clearly strategised that the only way to solve these inefficiencies would be to dump the problem in the operator's lap.
Well, it is being dumped as we speak. Let's see what happens next.
(* The thing with Microsoft is a little ironic. When Microsoft began its move into the mobile space it was still 'the' company to fear from a carrier perspective and so it was dealt with very gingerly and with the utmost caution = slow progress. It also sought to sell to the operators which means that its OS was far more geared to operator requirements than either iPhone or Android. And yet, despite this it has not become a meaningful player. I think that had it started its sales run a few years later (when Google was becoming a perceived threat to the operators) or if it had the vision (requiring a complete philosophical transformation) to create its own Android equivalent it would have made for a different story).
UPDATE: A far more detailed and profound post on this data issue can be found at Disruptive Wireless - here)