Smartphones

The dirty little secret about Google Android

While Android began with the greatest of intentions around openness and collaboration, here's the dirty little secret that haunts Google's mobile OS.

Google Android began with the greatest of intentions -- freedom, openness, and quality software for all. However, freedom always comes with price, and often results in unintended consequences. With Android, one of the most important of those unintended consequences is now becoming clear as Google gets increasingly pragmatic about the smartphone market and less and less tied to its original ideals.

Here's the dirty little secret about Android: After all the work Apple did to get AT&T to relinquish device control for the iPhone and all the great efforts Google made to get the FCC and the U.S. telecoms to agree to open access rules as part of the 700 MHz auction, Android is taking all of those gains and handing the power back to the telecoms.

That is likely to be the most important and far-reaching development in the U.S. mobile market in 2010. In light of the high ideals that the Android OS was founded upon and the positive movement toward openness that was happening back in 2007-2008, it is an extremely disappointing turn of events.

When Apple convinced AT&T not to plaster its logo on the iPhone or preload it with a bunch of AT&T bloatware, it was an important first step for smartphones to emerge as independent computers that were no longer crippled by the limitations put on them by the selfish interests of the telecom carriers, who typically wanted to upsell and nickel-and-dime customers for every extra app and feature on the phone.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said, "iPhone is the first phone where we separated the carrier from the hardware. They worry about the network, while we worry about the phone."

Almost for that reason alone, the iPhone was an immediate hit with customers, despite the many limitations of the first generation iPhone when it was released in June 2007.

Later that year, Google announced the Android mobile operating system and the Open Handset Alliance. Here was Google's statement made at the time:

"This alliance shares a common goal of fostering innovation on mobile devices and giving consumers a far better user experience than much of what is available on today's mobile platforms. By providing developers a new level of openness that enables them to work more collaboratively, Android will accelerate the pace at which new and compelling mobile services are made available to consumers."

Then in the spring of 2008, Google pulled off a brilliant coup in the U.S. government's 700 MHz auction when it bid enough to drive up the price for Verizon and AT&T to lock them into the FCC's open access guidelines (which Google helped form). Verizon had initially fought the open access concept with legal action, but eventually made a 180-degree turnaround and trumpeted its own plans to become an open network.

However, Verizon's open network plans have never really materialized. To say the company is dragging its feet would be a massive understatement. The best hope for a popular, unlocked handset on Verizon was Google's own Nexus One.

After launching in January 2010, first with access to the T-Mobile network, the Nexus One was planned to arrive on all four of the big U.S. wireless carriers by spring. The phone was sold by Google, unlocked, for roughly $500. Then users could simply buy service (without a contract) from a wireless carrier. That's the model that has worked so well for consumers in Europe and the Nexus One was supposed to be Google's major initiative to start moving the U.S. in the same direction.

Unfortunately, sales of the Nexus One were tepid and customers were frustrated by Google's poor customer support. By the time spring rolled around, Verizon was still dragging its feet and eventually the Nexus One on Verizon was canceled and replaced with the HTC Incredible, a nice device that nonetheless completely followed the old carrier model.

By some reports, the Open Handset Alliance is now in shambles. Members such as HTC have gone off and added lots of their own software and customizations to their Android devices without contributing any code back to the Alliance. Motorola and Samsung have begun taking the same approach. The collaborative spirit is gone -- if it ever existed at all. And, Google is proving to be a poor shepherd for the wolves-in-sheep's-clothing that make up the telecoms and the handset makers in the Alliance.

As a result, we now have a situation where the U.S. telecoms are reconsolidating their power and putting customers at a disadvantage. And, their empowering factor is Android. The carriers and handset makers can do anything they want with it. Unfortunately, that now includes loading lots of their own crapware onto these Android devices, using marketing schemes that confuse buyers (see the Samsung Galaxy S), and nickle-and-diming customers with added fees to run certain apps such as tethering, GPS navigation, and mobile video.

Just as Google is overwhelming the iPhone with over 20 Android handsets to Apple's one device, so the army of Android phones that can be carrier-modified is overwhelming the one Apple phone on a single carrier that allows it to stand apart and not play the old carrier-dominated game that resulted in strong handsets weakened by the design, software, and pricing ploys of the telecoms.

Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so it's still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals.

But, the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that it's being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

199 comments
B.Kaatz
B.Kaatz

Not that it will necessarily keep you free of issues like CarrierIQ, but you won't have to worry about scheisse like FourSquare or SprintZone or what-have-you always starting up... So, what do you think the chances are that the carriers will allow you to use Hardened Android over their bloated offerings of Android?

gdibello
gdibello

carriers are used to control their devices as much as possible, and they will continue to do so, they have their own flavor embedded in their devices

LinuxKing
LinuxKing

"However, freedom always comes with price...." Freedom is not the issue, the converse of freedom, "control" is the issue. You should have written: "However, control always comes with price, and often results in unintended consequences." The problem is that Google, just like Apple, AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft, etc-ad-nauseum steadfastly want control of their respective empires.

rpgies
rpgies

My wife and I tried the IPhone for 30 days, we liked it but AT&T wanted to charge for every little thing. We previously had Sprint and we liked their plan much better. So we returned the IPhones and got the Evo 4G. They have theory quirks but Bing back with Saint is much better. Besides the phones come preloaded with navigation and other apps that AT&T charges for.

richie3po
richie3po

Its true, I hate all things Apple, and I have to admit that they have really knocked one out of the park. They fall behind only to Blackberry, who still leads the smartphone market. When the telecoms allow Android to become what it was intended to be, I will purchase one. Until such a time, I will stick with Blackberry, tried and true!

AndroidGold.com - Best Android Tablets and Phones
AndroidGold.com - Best Android Tablets and Phones

But this will eventually backfire on the Open Handset Alliance players OTHER than Google, as the de-centralized Android community is both flexible and eager to devise both hardware and apps that run independently of Google's oversight.

InspectorGadget
InspectorGadget

Android is still WAY more open than the Apple/iPhone platform, even with hegemonizing Verizon software customizations. I don't see where he gets off trumpeting Apple, the fascist poster-child of tech platforms, as more open than Android. Who cares about the silly "open handset alliance?" Anyone with any technical brains would know that greedy corporation$ trading code would never work. And most of the code they make is so disgustingly bad that no one would want it anyway. The Android OS can never be open like Linux is open... it just wouldn't work in a phone environment. The only thing you can hope for is the openness of the application platform, which Google pulls off with Android and the Market FAR better than Apple does with the iTunes Gulag.

sdc01
sdc01

Jason, thank you! Someone has finally written about what I have been saying for over a year now! Apple is NOT the evil empire that many Android owners claim. The misconceptions are rampant! Unless, Google does something drastic, it will get worse but people need to remember that Google is hugely profiting from this, regardless of their original 'vision' of openness. Nearly everything one does on their Android is, in one form or another, being tracked, quantized into data that Google resells. I'd love to go on and dispel all the myths and tell more about what is really going on at Google... but I must catch a flight soon.

Shane10101
Shane10101

That's a really exagerated look at the "down-side" of open software. The good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it?? Yeah. That's the point. Anybody can do anything they want with it. Some folks want stuff that other folks would consider unnecessary. What's "bloatware" to you & me, might be the stuff that makes an Android phone usable to someone less tech-savvy -- my Mom, for instance. The idea that there are "good guys" & "bad guys" in this context would only be reasonable everybody valued the same things in a mobile device. The freedom to have your own values, wants, desires, ... -- that's what open software is all about.

larrymarsden
larrymarsden

It is a real shame that Google didn't back the Nexus a little longer. They , of all companies, should realize that such a game changing innovation takes time to be widely adopted. I wa only a few months from buying one as I had a contract with the telco in Canada that was just too expensive to break and 2 phones just wasn't in the budget... sigh.

stewartngandu
stewartngandu

One of the best tech analysis I have read in a long while. Good analysis is about giving people a perspective that they never had. Yes these are legitimate concerns... Alas there might not be any salvation in Android?. When will the promise be delivered?

mpredosin
mpredosin

Your opening paragraph truly summed up the crisis facing Android. As an Android developer from its inception, I feel betrayed by Google after its abandonment of net neutrality and the deal with Verizon. However, I feel there is some blame with the consumers themselves by not voting with their wallet. Had consumers truly embraced the European model and helped make Nexus One a success then it might have sent ripples throughout the mobile industry in the US. As a result, we will continue to be slaves to the carriers and their outrageous data plans, slow networks, & inferior phones.

allen099
allen099

As a big proponent of Android for the past almost 9 months, I do agree with this article and I hate that it's happening. I still feel that the devices that I own (Nexus One and Vibrant) are superior to the iPhone for their own reasons, and the OS bodes much better with me than iOS, but Jason Hiner is right. And if Google continues to misstep, then I won't have an issue dumping them as fast as I did iPhone. It's quite sad what they're doing with people's trust. *shakes head*

Digicruiser
Digicruiser

Why would this be such a problem HTC running away with their Android version. At the end of the day, many M$ Operating systems can run the same program as long as it is compatible. If HTC want to run away without sharing, it be innovative but at least with the same "base" to run any Android application. I have an i-Phone and for a demo period tried out HTC's Desire - love the HTC... Apple will stubbonly resist against the customers who want an SD slot, easier way to replace the battery etc. Like the Gen 5 iPods you could put alternative firmware to allow drap-and-drop of music; no stupid iTunes!!! Pity we can't just have an alternative firmware like Android on the iPhone - whoops did I say that aloud??? iPhone do a good phone but Steve Job's personal control (he must love control in his personal private life) must learn that many of us want to have an Apple device but not be controlled restricting what we want to do with it. Of course he is out to make a buck by limiting only to his cut of the market but people will "talk" with money when they see more people buying alternatives. Android has surppased iOS4 and is kicking the backside of RIM at this very moment - all because Steve is too controlling.

dcolbert
dcolbert

That in an mob of unethical business practices, one company will realize that eventually the market demand for ethnical business practices dictated by consumer demand and not business desire will be the golden opportunity to differentiate and thrive. Sprint has seemingly toyed with the concept. I'd put up with a little poor reception and some dropped calls in order to be treated right by a company I choose to do business with - while hoping that enough other consumers would follow suit to enable that company to address those problems eventually. But I may be a dreamer.

cam8001
cam8001

This is totally specious: '"..They worry about the network, while we worry about the phone.? Almost for that reason alone, the iPhone was an immediate hit with customers. ' To argue that the much derided AT&T network bolstered Apple's success is incorrect. The reason that the iPhone was a hit was that it was a brilliantly designed and engineered device that focussed the benefits of a smartphone into a simple-to-use device for the average consumer. The seperation of network from phone, as you state, was fantastic, but that was because of Apple's unique approach to product development, not because of any inherent strength in that model. Apple succeeded in spite of AT&T. Android does indeed give power back to carriers to customize and brand phones in ways that detract from their funciton and utility. However, in establishing a baseline OS, Google has opened up competition, and in some senses allowed the free market ideal to play to its strengths. Don't like HTC sense? Buy a Galaxy. Fed up with Blur? Go pick up an Xperia. I am free to install Android 2.2 on my HTC Sense. Apple locks everything down (brilliantly), but locked it is. I am no particular fan of Google's business model or recent business practices. But I think that Android will provide the practical, workable flexibility to make it the OS of choice for the majority of smartphone users this decade - for much the same reasons that Windows succeeded so forcefully on PCs in the 90s.

manuelpinot
manuelpinot

No matter whats they do still more open and free than others y say blackberries, iphones, hassyphones, etc

chlimouj
chlimouj

Google didn't kill the Telecom business model, but they proved that even a God-king can bleed.

chrisfleury
chrisfleury

Android has done far more to provide openness and choice in the marketplace, by allowing any manufacturer and any carrier to develop a product people want, hence the exceptionalal sales. With Apple, they do the crippling themselves giviing consumers no option, but to accept what limited product Apple sees fit. Buttonless, keyboardless, limited features, control over apps etc. That isn't for the good of the consumer. Additionally, Apple is totally in bed with AT&T which has thoroughly limited freedom and choice for the consumer. Using the phrase "Dirty Little Secret" in reference to Android's opennness is purely inflamatory and misleading since the most noteable and obvious this about Android has been it's openness from the beginning.

Vurbal
Vurbal

This isn't a problem with Google. It's a problem with the US mobile phone market. The price of a phone is built into the price service so it doesn't make sense for the majority of people to get a new phone from a third party like Google. As long as the carriers have that power we'll get the phones they're willing to sell. Sure it's somewhat different for Apple, but they're unique because of their customer base and proficiency at building hype around new products. And even though they took some of the power from AT&T, that doesn't translate to more power for consumers. Instead the control wrested from the carrier was transferred to Apple. You get features if and when Apple decides.

wkim
wkim

One thing iphone has not completely seperated the device from it's carrier...since it only runs on a single carrier for most of the time and AT&T has also placed limits on what one can and cannot do on their iphone (i.e. tethering for the longest time didn'nt exist and MMS was missing initially often due to AT&T holding things up). What was scary was when hardware makers, tele carriers and mobile OS creators colluded against consumers which lead to very dull and useless mobile apps and limited the ability for newer technologies to come out (Kind of like the auto industry resting on their laurels...think about it the basic concept of the car has not changed since the model T) Apple and iphone was a game changer literally. Apple did a great thing by forcing fairly reasonable pricing for all you can eat broadband and taking the abiilty to provide applications away from carriers who are really bad at that job and opened it up to any developer that had a Mac and could pay $99 for the entrance. That dropped the cost of entry for app developers and provided a stream of interesting apps to come into the market. Now Apple is a victim of it's own success and I think having a healthy competitive rival was needed. Android is now here to keep Apple in check from becoming the only game in town which I think in the long run will be good for consumers. And the bottom line is consumers, carriers, hardware makers, mobile OS makers and of course the developers all have a stake in this. I don't think we can live on altruistic ideals and should understand that all parties have the ablilty to apply pressure to tele carriers. What this industry needed was a shake up and we got that with the iphone. The other thing that consumers needed was the ability to switch ships (thanks to number portability and I like to use google voice myself). Consumers change phones every 18-24 month so devices needed to be cheaper and the death of Google's Nexus unlocked phones shows that consumers are definitely cost conscious and are willing to give up a little freedom for lower cost. I think the benefit here is not just the open or closeness of an OS but the ability for consumers to change phones and carriers when their contract is up and the ability for developers to provide new and interesting functionality to the phone and that is where I think both iphone and android will excel at compared to what we had in the past. This may be a little dirty secret, come on what system out there doesn't have a dirty little secret.

christianfishvideo
christianfishvideo

Its why the original Droid was so awesome they should have just stuck with that model

luca
luca

I think we are talking about the US maket only. That's the 4.5%. In Europe just few operators sell locked or branded phones. Here Android is just an OS and iphone is just a brand model.

lensdoc
lensdoc

I am 59 years old and I considered myself savvy as I moved from electronic typewriters to the old 64kb memory limits. I celebrated the Pentium 1 by buying 10 for my school. I had i286, even before and comps that needed to add a math co-processor. My memory fails me with model names. But now I use what I can and that is a Pentium type 4 machine or machines over a almost 15 years. Linux was so tempting but I am too lazy to work hard for something that has less than the market level applications. Some are great no doubt. Now Windows mobile, replaces the Symbian, Android comes in and Apple as usual has a place of its own, like a costly dish for those who can afford to eat. What are we the users going to do with all this trash. You guys write blogs and some make money. Is the world going to be just a whole lot of bull that we all have to sort out. Or! Are you going to come out and say your thing. Come on young lads, today your phone, tomorrow your home, then your car and then your life. Has your life been taken over without your noticing it. Speaking about that - how has your health been lately and along with that your love life. We are all here for not only the things we use, but also for the quality of life that we live. I hope that is not forgotten. Thank you, young man for the information, but how much will it help me? God bless! Doc - I try, honestly, I try to educate myself, but if this is fuzzy logic, am I a chip!

krassib
krassib

Being born and raised in a Balkan country you are so right about calling the U.S. mobile market "a balkanized state of affairs." For people not aware of the Balkans history - there is few states (countries) located at the Balkan Peninsula (Eastern Europe) who have so many historical problems full of differences, controversies, and wars.

maweiner
maweiner

Jason -- great piece! Bizarre that Google (driver of all things search, and now SaaS/PaaS) is enabling old school telcos to continue locked down handset-based business models... Do you think additional carriers taking on iPhone will adjust the env't at all, or is closed nature of Apple OS and AppStore gonna keep tech leaders/developers on Android for years to come? Mark

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Truly delivered with the freedom Android claimed to have in the beginning and allowed to be what Apple would never allow with an Iphone. The N900 is some serious brick of hardware too. I did try to like Android. The EVO and Asus' phone are both great bricks of hardware only lacking the slider keyboard. GPS, camera, wifi, huge procs; they had it all. I just couldn't do it though with Android being fractured so badly within it's own distribution along with everything I do on my phone being looped back through Google's servers (really, I need google's servers to process the speech to text or a simple calendar event change?). Google has been unable to provide an upgrade path from Maemo based devices thus far. Maybe Meego will be mature and ready when it's time to look at an OS upgrade in a year or two.

ben
ben

You have certainly succeeded. However I would like a bit more factual basis for these "evil telecom killing consumer" claims. Hey, I like telecom bashing as much as the next guy, don't get me wrong! Still, if I want to use an iPhone, I have one carrier to go to. My Droid can go with me anywhere. But being honest, that's not very relevent as my Droid will be obsolete by the time I get around to thinking about what carrier would be better for my needs. I'd argue that the incremental, unregulated pricing model mobile carriers in the US use is good for consumers. It results in nearly free service for basic users, and lets savy users do alright too. Let's compare: Adding my Mom's mobile cost $9.99/mo (she doesn't text or browse); her internet is $14.99/mo; her POTS line is nearly $40/mo (with admitatly high CA taxes). Which provides the most value? Nice thread! -B

ubwete
ubwete

The problem seems to lie with the US FCC. One needs a "telecom shrink" to make sense of a provider's offering. The american end-user is the inevitable casualty whenever they consume services that are regulated by the FCC. No wonder the rest of the world shuns those telecoms.

jschledermann
jschledermann

What's the problem? Buy a simlock-free android phone. Take out the cheapest possible 0 minutes subscription for a couple of bucks a month. Enable unlimited internet for a few bucks more. Install sipdroid and call for free via your internet connection AND surf your bud off. Who is scr..ed here??????

RealGem
RealGem

As soon as there is some real money to be made, businesses want to grow and *protect* their revenue stream. You try to sell new phones and try to hold off the competition. Bundling things together is one way to make a sale, and contracts protect your revenue stream. This is just the nature of business in a competitive market. I can guarantee that if you ran one of those companies, you would do the same thing. Sadly, there's not a lot of room for "let's everyone hold hands and sing a song, and maybe later we'll have some juice". Don't get me wrong, there's a place for open communities, for example as skunkworks, but as soon as something catches on, someone tries to make a buck off it.

olejnikster
olejnikster

You know people, different kinds of people, are sometimes funny. They "pull off a leg" for a show of distance without any consideration given yet. Meaning may do things as said without due considered content for US ALL sometimes, as precious as the gift of life. What we need to unite is ourselves as freedom loving and intelligent human beings and secure our future to things that are as common as the air that we share to breathe together. For example, the Internet is not just hardware and data plans. It is an extension of every human-being's thinking. REALLY. We can not justify ratifications upon that as just blatant control factors unknown to some may all. An extension of your thinking is that of as the same as thinking itself. It is the greatest gift we can have to one-another no matter the it's line of thought. Should be ours to build great, from ourselves to ourselves. That is how communication was borne from us as a society after all. Take care everyone, the future is ours.

Sensor Guy
Sensor Guy

DARPA recently had a discussion about High Assurance systems and in the meeting this came up. The private conversations were about the trade-off. The NSA version (Distribution?) could be free of CarrierIQ, but what other baggage would one be picking up? The answer is beginning to look like we really need a fully visible open source distribution not controlled by any one party that can be easily customized. Android is really a faux open source, especially one the hardware vendors and carriers add their "secret tweeks" to the sauce you finally get as a "open source" solution. Better than an Apple closed product, but not ideal at all.

stewartngandu
stewartngandu

@InspectorGadget. Dude I think its you who has missed the point. Where on earth does it say Apple is more open than Android in the last paragraph it clearly says and I quote, "Android remains the antithesis of the CLOSED Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so it's still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals." It's either you did not read the article or you simply failed to activator your "gadget spectacles". lol..

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

That's the "openness" part I get hung up on. If my hardware is "Android" and my software is "Android" why can't I just flash Google's clean core distribution to any "Android" device? Why must I wait for Motorola to produce a customized DroidX version of the current Android version? Why must I use manufacturer/hardware/AndroidVersion specific rooting procedures instead if simply installing a "rootsh" package that functions against any version of Android on any hardware? Why are things like Motorola logic bomb acceptable in something we're calling "open"? Apps that won't install because your vendor/hardware/software version doesn't match? Why? If I install a gps app on a device without a gps radio, it should install just fine but lack the ability to give me gps derived location data. For an open device, it requires a lot of my data be passed from phone, through google servers and back to the phone for processing far more often than I'd like. Why wouldn't this work in the mobile device space? Make a vendor specific driver pack slip-streamed into the firmware; easy. Make a firmware flasher wizard utility; easy, been done for years. Provide access to advanced features by opt-in config setting; Nokia's Maemo does this, Android could too. Really, the only thing keeping this from happening is BS politics. I don't see any technological reason to justify it. I also don't see how the end user benefits from the current state. I just see a promising software platform for mobile devices being fragmented like a car windshield.

az_nemesis
az_nemesis

Which is why I won't have a single Apple device in my home. I have far more control over my Droid and my PC than any Mac/iPhone user has over their device.

az_nemesis
az_nemesis

that those of use who do not want this expensive garbage on our phones don't have the option of just taking it off. You have to root your phone to remove this nonsense, all of which costs more to use. If it was about usability, it would be one thing. It's not about usability, though, and saying otherwise is disingenuous at best. The fact that you have to pay more to actually use each of those "extra" apps, and you cannot remove them in any standard way, looks like nothing less than a scam to me.

BlissC
BlissC

I'm already finding problems with the problem of some apps not being available on the Android Marketplace depending on which handset you're using. I'm currently using the HTC Wildfire, which has problems with a number of apps, which simply don't appear on the Android Marketplace, seemingly for no good reason (though I've been given various reasons why these particular apps aren't compatible with the Wildfire). I started off with the G1 when Android first became available here in the UK, and I have to say that from a reliability point of view, it was by far the worst phone I've ever owned. Add to that the fact that at the time it was only available on one UK mobile network (whose coverage of my local area is patchy to say the least, and I rarely got a signal strong enough for voice calls at home) and I got out of the contract as soon as I possibly could without costing me a fortune. When it came to replacing the phone, again I was stuck with the Nexus One only being on one network, and it's a network that again I know coverage in my area isn't great for. The other big influence on me was that if the Nexus One was going to be anything like the G1 had been, I didn't want to find myself stuck again with a phone I regretted for the life of the contract. Instead I went with a network that I know to be reliable, as I've used them before, and as I'm on a budget, went for the Wildfire because it had the features I needed and was on a plan that was affordable for me. I work in IT, and I know my way around phones, and I always check out the technical specs and features as well as the prices before making a decision on what I'm going for. For the majority of consumers though, they'll go for the features they see pushed on the ads, and generally aren't to bothered about the detailed technical specs, or even necessarily the OS providing the phone does what they want it to do. A colleague of mine at work bought a G1 about a week after I got mine, simply because she'd seen mine, and liked the look of it. You can't expect consumers to be experts in both the technical specs of phones and the politics of the OS developers and carriers. It's a pity that Google didn't stick to its principles and stick to its position of neutrality, but really what's needed now is for consumers to be putting pressure and complaining to their carriers if there are problems with the network etc.

BrianMWatson
BrianMWatson

For those technically inclined, rooting solves this problem. But I feel bad for those that aren't so inclined...

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

With maemo5, I believe Nokia opened up the last remaining closed binary bits of the software platform. Not sure how many binary blobs Meego will end up with for specific hardware devices though. Android also contains a lot of closed binaries mixed into what they have provided as open source. It also has owner hostile features added like Motorola's DroidX self destruct logic bomb. More open than Iphone but still end user and developer hostile and more closed than alternative software platforms.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Is trading being tied to a carrier some how less objectionable than being tied to Apple? Of the two, I'd rather deal with the carrier. At least they can't tell me it's MY fault because I hold the phone the wrong way. Apple, in my estimation, is THE market leader is peddling arrogance and way too many people are buying every last bit Apple can bring to market.

binaryme
binaryme

I'm with you... although I don't have the same issues with carrier lock-in like most of you in the US. Here, 'Downunder', we have the choice of going with a contract-plan (and included phone), buying a phone outright and using a pree-paid sim or using your own phone on a plan. When using you own phone you can switch carrier when ever you want, although, in reality if you live in a remote area (I do) there is only one carrier that offers decent coverage. That aside. The Nokia N900 is the closest thing I have found to being 'open' in the context of being free from Apples "Walled Garden" and Google's "Big Brother" attitudes. I'll stick with Nokia & Maemo 5 for now....

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Swell, but where does the dirty, disgusting, degrading, corrupting money come from that is necessary to put in the "Internet is not just hardware and data plans" necessary this "extension of every human-being's thinking"? High minded talk sounds great - in some circles - but include some down and dirty explanation of HOW this happens. Without that, all your high minded drivel is just that.

sdc01
sdc01

The only way Cyanogen and others eventually work on each (or many) Android phones is that someone has found a way to hack the manufacturer's proprietary drivers. The problem is the manufacturers are not releasing their proprietary drivers as open-source. So ultimately: 1. You either wait for the official update from the manufacturer (it may NEVER happen), 2. You get your own hacked version but all the functions on the phone may not work (i.e. camera) 3. Wait until there is a completely working hack for your phone 4. Hack it yourself.

Greenman76
Greenman76

Interesting that you had the experiene in the UK. I bought the G1 a year ago and it was the first phone I was ever happy with. I had tried PALM, Blackberry and plenty of Windows phones but none of them ever did what I wanted. The G1 was very reliable, it didn't have crashes, dropped calls and there was no problem finding free apps for it, unlike the windows phones that if I wanted anything useful I had to pay for it. Yes it only worked on T-Mobile which I was already using so that worked out for me. The only issue I had was after about 18 months the battery started going out. I bought a new one for $10 on Amazon and it's still ticking. Eventually I'll be looking to upgrade but right now there isn't anything out for T-mobile that is calling to me. I agree you can't expect consumers to be experts. I think a big part of the iPhone's success was from marketing. The fact that it sold out made it even more desirable. Create what appears to be a shortage of something and demand goes up. Just look at the Flu Shot in the US. Nobody cared until there was a shortage, now there are lines all over the country to get one.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

" Apples "Walled Garden" and Google's "Big Brother" attitudes " - Binaryme

MrRich
MrRich

Glad to know. Last thing I want is crap on my phone!

greggwon
greggwon

Apple the Company, is made up of thousands of people all of whom have different opinions on matters of company business, wouldn't you think? So, when one employee speaks "for the company", you can either accept that as the only, everlasting, opinion/policy, or you can believe that money, walking feet, and blogs/voices count. People are finding value in what Apple is providing in their products, or else they would not be in the position they are in. Like it or not, that is the way it is. Microsoft slyly, covertly, blatantly, illegally and by any means possible has worked to make sure that their market share was dominant, mostly by making other choices inaccessible. They've bought up technologies and buried them, and torn apart rebellious software communities with threats and outright force. In the world, what counts is what people will pay for. It's really that plain. People who don't know about "open source" could care less about that as a "reason" to purchase a particular device. People who I know switched to iPhone, did so for numerous reasons. One that comes up again and again, is the simplicity of use of the device. Another one that ranks near the top, is the fixed monthly cost for data in U.S. market. There may be things about Apple, "the company" that are not so palatable. But, there are plenty of things about the devices that they sell which people find valuable and they thus pay for them. The Android market place must stare into every corner of Apple's marketplace to see, and understand how important the customers are finding the things that they are doing. It seems to me that they've found a group of test consumers that are providing exactly the right feedback on product ideas, because the products are ending up as the key to Apples success, more so, than the things which many people who don't like Apple say, are the only reasons they will not buy any Apple products. As a minority member of the "market", they only had one direction to go, and that was up. People who've never interacted with Apple or owned Apple products before, seem to be the ones that are buying the most Apple products. Steve Jobs said that new customers where a big part of the business. A lot of people that I've told about Google being behind the Android OS, have told me that they would not buy an Android device then, because Google already has too much information about them.

olejnikster
olejnikster

So tell me if our air for example is your air too. Ok it has to be? Now? Or maybe when you, pay for it by the square foot BECAUSE IT IS BEING CALLED SOMETHING NOT GIVEN THEN.Same as royalty in the dark ages kept people from reading books so they could simply manipulate them. So that when society evolved you call it simply data plans and less your right to base your substantial expression. Grab a gun then and head out and fight in Iraq. It is it that your freedom, to see drivel in yourself that guess mindlessly as only it can, a tiny mind can, BE ONLY AS BEING POLITICS . But how to call it isn't as so to the fact of importance, that what it is from the base being called taken as. Let them say for what is yours because you say it already as theirs and only so to that is what then would be presumed. Sophism is a great hobby to take it, but why include that to normal healthy thinking for the first place simply? Stop juggling grenades when they call them for you and you'll have more hands to think with. Safety in numbers is safer then finding more holes already in swiss cheese. Better to show we know how to use our thinking then to be calling ourselves, as just thinking. If transmitting data is thinking in modern human(an extension of our thinking), it can't be constrained just to a commercial basis. That would in turn poses, that a product offered as faulty in it's margins to society's answers of call, is exactly and only that. Same as you have standards of hygiene and not melted animal fats(from all soaps are made) just to wash your dirty hands. Otherwise, grab a burger and I don't care how you do eat your fries..

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

The driver issue is why I included the suggestion that they release a binary blob. The firmware image is already delivered as a binary. Plug your phone in, open the flash utility, point it at the firmware and press Go. It wouldn't be a hard issue to include an optional "vendors drivers". In this case, you plug your phone in, open the flash utility, point it at the firmware image, point it at the vendor mini-firmware, press go and let it feed both into the hardware. - vendors are not using budget to customize non-vendor specific parts of the OS or are open to returning those customizations back to the core distribution. - vendor specific drivers remain obscured by the vendor but available for the user regardless of if they are matched to a vendor firmware or the core distribution firmware image. - users can choose to use the default distro with it's hardware support or include the vendor specific mini-firmware (binary blob with hardware modules for kernel). They can use the latest from Google plus the vendor hardware support or wait for a vendor specific full firmware to become available. Your four options may be the current possibilities but there is not technological reason for delivering a better product for the end user.

bigaussie
bigaussie

I was going to ask olejnikster what he was smoking; but then realised there was probably no point -- like continuing to try and understand what he is getting at. In a perfect "socialist" world, we would all be sharing the costs of the infrastructure of the internet equally and freely -- but in the real world, there are many who would prefer at least 2 meals per day first.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

Finally, one coherent, understandable thought! I don't disagree with you on this, but the fact remains - the PCs, smart phones and the connectivity infrastructure they require all have real costs - dollars, pounds, yen, whatever. Where does that come from?

olejnikster
olejnikster

Seems you're a grown lad now. Believe in mysterious sightings, to just nod like the rest. Then why you even bother, with calling YOUR SPAM something to be considered about. Just fallow the rest like a poor sheep that only knows what, "they say". If you don't know how to extend expressions, then just don't bother. Sit there and look into your screen,and wait for the time for you to, just pay. Meaning when you click anything on the screen and it costs you a buck or two just to do that is when I believe your methods have evolved. You can talk to us then about who pays for what, and you can feel so upstated just to open your yap first.I really don't care for the likes of the lost few who don't even bother to understand where the beginning is to matters. Just the same, as if you would have kn-oded for payments for the air you breath just because it circulates around your pc (copyrights of an operating system, and hardware mfg patents involved around that uhooo). So when the next moment comes and you say YOUR thinking is just a bothersome simlock or un-acquirable data plan, GET A LIFE OR SOMETHING. I will. Because the truth is smartphones these days and PCs are an extension of ones thinking. The ability to see one-another.

Lazarus439
Lazarus439

I've read this three times and it still sounds like the random garble that spammers include to try to beat antispam filters. What exactly are you trying to say?