GSMA pushes the Open Gateway initiative, its bid for an open, unified 5G ecosystem.  It sounds like a retread of OneAPI which GSMA launched at MWC 2009. At that time GSMA launched some 20 APIs. APIs and Open Gateway are not new.

Mobile operators are pining for the glory days when premium SMS was a gigantic financial success. Telenor and Telia invented the short code for payment which worked across all mobile operators in a country.

Operators are understandably excited about the idea of offering different informational elements, interoperable like Lego bricks, which can be used to make exciting applications with network intelligence and seamlessness. App developers consider whether and how to make their applications more intelligent themselves, or to use the network intelligence to reach this goal.

Strand Consult studied the OneAPI concept in detail and made a comprehensive report “OneAPI – Next Generation Value Added Services in the Mobile industry” investigating the underlying business models and distribution strategies. From 2009 and after, Strand Consult described that mobile operators’ ability to execute made the difference between success and failure. Indeed, mobile operators’ APIs (which include a fee) competed with the “free” APIs Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android already embedded in the mobile phone.

In Canada, mobile operators launched a gateway that allowed all operator APIs in Canada to be accessed via a single gateway provider. This is the concept that GSMA has relaunched as the Open Gateway initiative.

It will be interesting to see which business models the operators launch together with their API´s. Similarly, it will be interesting to see how operators will compete against the iOS and Android APIs as well as Microsoft, AWS and other hyperscalers API´s.

Nevertheless, there is a large market for APIs and customers willing to pay for access. The  questions is whether mobile operators can compete with Apple and Google on this front.