Mobile innovation is global, and wants to have global markets. Innovators will go to a platform not because the meet-ups and business-card exchanges are in London or Silicon Valley -- although Silicon Valley sure likes to think so -- but because the platform has
- Access to a huge audience
- Makes it easy to deliver wares
- Makes paying and getting paid easy.
And from that we can see what the gatekeeper is for innovation: the operator. Apple forced their first operator to make it easy to deliver wares, including data streams, by demanding their device be only sold with data-unlimited plans (with a few exceptions) and no crippling like walled gardens, and Apple made an easy payment platform. But Vodafone and Telefonica and China Mobile have just a great or greater reach than Apple, satisfying point 1. They can, even if it takes a humongous change in attitude, create a platform that satisfies 2 on every capable phone, and then supersede Apple and Google in point 3 by allowing apps to be paid for with the phone-bill, unlocking the spending potential of every Pay As You Go user on the planet who no longer needs to beg their parents for a payment card. Nokia's Ovi will blaze through 1, still seems to be stumbling on 2, but I know they understand 3.
You do that, Voda and O2 and Hutchinson, you allow some kid in South Africa to sell her penguin game made from pictures she took in her back yard to a mom in Panama who has 30 minutes of spare time while waiting for her shoes to be fixed in the shop, and innovation will come from everywhere and in amounts currently unimaginable.