The GSM community can rightly claim some enormous successes. Today GSM technology provides services for 88% of all mobile subscribers worldwide. But there are a limited number of vendors selling GSM technology to a limited number of mobile operators, many of whom have government mandated, GSM-specific licenses. If the GSM vendor community had to sell to consumers or enterprise IT directors, they would fall flat on their faces, because neither the GSM vendors nor the GSM Association (GSMA) have any concept of branding!
Today's email brought the GSMA's newsletter, Mobile Brandband Weekly Update. Although the newsletter ends with this statement: "Copyright 2008 GSM Association. GSM and the GSM Logo are registered and owned by the GSM", neither the term 'GSM' nor the GSM Logo are used anywhere in this newsletter!
There are 13 news items, all about 3GSM technology, but here are counts of how often various terms appear:
1 HSPA Evolved
and even though they are all GSM technologies promoted by the GSM Association:
As I look at years of GSM hype, the diversity of acronyms is unbelievable. "3GSM" is a good way to talk about 3rd generation GSM, but why actively promote the use of: UMTS, W-CDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA, HSPA+, LTE and so on, without also saying GSM or 3GSM? This is massively confusing. What are they thinking?
By comparison, consider the brand recognition achieved by the WiFi Alliance. People may mention 802.11b, a, g or even n, but they always do so in the connection with the name WiFi. There is one WiFi brand even though, internally, WiFi has gone through as many or more changes in modulation and protocols.
The difference of course is that WiFi is sold to individuals and businesses around the world. WiFi vendors can't afford to get this wrong. Apparently, GSM vendors and the GSM Association can.
Here's a suggestion for the GSMA. Adopt the terms GSM, 3GSM and 4GSM and stick to them. If you want to refer to specific protocol versions, do so only in the context of a name that includes the letters GSM.