A good Fred Vogelstein Wired piece on the making of the iPhone describing how the iPhone really broke open the carriers closed world.
Application developers are poised to gain more opportunities as the wireless carriers begin to show signs of abandoning their walled-garden approach to snaring consumers. T-Mobile and Sprint have signed on as partners with Google's Android, an operating system that makes it easy for independent developers to create mobile apps. Verizon, one of the most intransigent carriers, declared in November that it would open up its network for use with any compatible handset. AT&T made a similar announcement days later. Eventually this will result in a completely new wireless experience, in which applications work on any device and over any network.
The first player that brings people into the broken down walls of the garden usually has a nice advantage.