Walled Garden

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A walled garden is an analogy used in various senses in information technology. In the telecommunications and media industries, a ‘walled garden’ refers to a carrier or service provider’s control over applications, content, and media on platforms (such as mobile devices) and restriction of convenient access to non-approved applications or content. For example, in telecommunications, the services and applications accessible on any device on a given wireless network were historically tightly controlled by the mobile operators. The mobile operators determined which applications from which developers were available on a device’s home portal or home page. This has long been a central issue constraining the telecommunications sector, as developers face huge hurdles in getting their applications onto devices and into the hands of end-users.

More generally, a ‘walled garden’ refers to a closed or exclusive set of information services provided for users. This is in contrast to giving consumers unrestricted access to applications and content. Similar to a ‘real’ walled garden, a user in a walled garden is unable to escape this area unless it is through the designated entry/exit points or the walled garden is removed. Removing the walled garden is typically done by complying with the terms of removal, such as updating firmware, registering an account, or cleaning machine from infected files.

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