I attended the WWJ-AM Newsradio 950 Business Breakfast last week with a few of my colleagues to see Wall Street Journal personal technology reporter Walter Mossberg. Mossberg’s discussion focused on three areas of technology: the Internet, mobile technology and Detroit’s favorite topic, automobiles.

Mossberg said the U.S. cellular phone networks do not operate to meet the demands of their consumers and that the current business model of “locking” the software on their phone is anti-consumer preventing further innovation. He feels that the carriers’ ability to control content is unfair to consumers and that the government should take notice of this issue.

Another subject that Mossberg seemed quite passionate about is his view that the auto industry is not coming out with innovative cars that excite consumers. He said that even the latest technology, such as GPS systems and iPod docking stations, are way behind what is available on PCs and from mobile technologies. He also described visiting an dealership recently and being taken aback that the sales staff could not properly describe some of the most basic technology in the vehicles.

In the Q&A session, I asked Mossberg what he thought about the failures of municipal Wi-Fi projects and what impact that might have on future innovation. Mossberg thought that even though the first round has had a lot of issues, that there would be more initiatives in the future and that ultimately, Wi-Fi (or WiMax) public projects will succeed.

Apparently after the event Mossberg was off to check out the new Ford Sync, which I think might help to change his opinion on innovation from the Big 3 for in-vehicle technology.

— Allen Arnold

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