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IPhone vs Android? No. We're fighting the wrong fight (eliainsider.com)
366 points by turoczy on Sept 14, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 157 comments

To me all those problems with carriers dictating anything looks like a US-only problem.

You can fix this! Just buy more unlocked phones. Since 1994 I never bought a net locked phone. Subsidizing does not have to be linked to a net lock. Subsidizing was never (AFAIR) linked to a net lock in Germany. The iPhone was a first for us (here in Europe). From here it looks like the iPhone brought this consumer-unfriendly practice to us. Thank goodness no Android phone is net locked here in Germany at least no net locked only.

> Just buy more unlocked phones.

In my experience, if you buy an unlocked phone, you hand the carrier a bonus payment of the cost of the phone. They don't give you any cheaper service.

And, when I went to replace a Nokia POS that died 3 days after warranty, I discovered that Verizon even subsidizes their prepaid phones: you can get an LG VX5600 for $40 with new service, but to replace the Nokia with the existing account, they wanted $200. (Allegedly, they "don't sell" the Nokia in question as a prepaid, and thus couldn't offer a direct replacement; which raises the question of why phones they "don't sell" come with their branding and work on their network.)

Here is an example of how it works in Denmark:


The slider let you choose between low initial price, high monthly payment (top position) and high initial price, no monthly payment (bottom position).

No matter what, the phone is always unlocked.

The only exception is this one


which is only sold with a high monthly payment, and locked for six months.

So I don't really see Apple as saving us from the tyranny of the carriers, in this part of the world.

T-mobile USA is (AFAIK) the only US provider that is making unlocked phones better deals. They provide two service types: with contract and without contract with the latter being cheaper.

I can confirm this. I have T-Mobile with an unlocked Nexus One - $66/month after all taxes and fees, 500 anytime minutes, unlimited everything else.

In addition to getting it cheaper for prepaying each month, I get $5 off for letting them bill my card automatically.

(Incidentally, T-Mobile is a German company).

BTW, my friend was considering a N1, so I did the math to see if you actually save money by buying the phone for $600 upfront versus paying for it over two years. You do.

(But if you are just going to put it on your credit card and pay it off over those two years, then you lose. T-Mobile lends you the phone at a very low interest rate. Or gouges you on service for the unsubsidized phone.)

T-Mobile will gladly sell you a plan with a significantly cheaper monthly price if you pay the full cost of the phone up front.

t-mobile also carried the first android phone (g1) and worked with google to launch the nexus one on google's terms (selling it from google's website in subsidized and unlocked versions). they are about to launch the g2, a new android phone that carries a vanilla version of android that will presumably be easy to root and reflash.

t-mobile has visual voicemail and billing apps for android. i think they're the only carrier to "get" this whole android thing.

You actually can't buy a non-industrial device from anyone but Verizon with their branding and firmware that they will allow on their network. They fought FCC regulations that forced them to open up and lost (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2007/11/verizon_open.h...), but instead just made their device approval process more public — they never actually got rid of it: http://opennetwork.verizonwireless.com/

T-mobile offers less expensive plans with no contract (and no subsidized phone).

I was wondering about that. Why bother buying an unlocked phone if your payments don't change?

I mean, you have the freedom to change carriers at will, but I wonder how often that's exercised.

This is the fundamental win with the current US system.

If every phone existed as an unlocked/unsubsidsidized variant -- those would still hardly move. Why pay $500 for a phone, when you can get the same phone for $199, but you simply have a two year contract. I've been with the same carrier for 10 years, despite having the option to leave at many points in time.

In many regards, I think our subsidized mobile phone system trumps the systems outside of the US.

If most phones are unlocked the market will certainly come up with competitive prices for both phones and carrier deals. That's how it basically works in the non-US systems.

As long as the phone is bundled with, say, a 24 month service you'll definitely end up paying more and the nominal "plain phone prices" can be arbitrary. You don't get $500 for "free" as the real price of the phone would be much lower. Or, alternatively, the monthly charge would be much lower without the phone if there was competition there.

It's just that contracts are too lucrative for telcos and they all know it, and nobody wants to start the competition.

Outside the US we have the option of subsidised phones or pay-as-you go deals depending on what you actually need.

A win from whose perspective?

The users. I get the carriers to give me $300 for something I plan on doing anyways (using their service for the next two years).

It would be like Comcast subsidizing my purchase of a TV if I kept Comcast for two years. I'd jumpt on that deal now (assuming the subsidy was $300+ dollars), because I anticipate keeping Comcast for two years (even with the coming internet TV threats). And certainly for the past 10 years, it would have been an even bigger no brainer.

That's bullshit ... what you get is lock-in for 2 years, a period of time in which they can fuck with you however they want, all for $300 ... which you pay back one way or another, especially when you've got a functional oligopoly: i.e. SMS messages are 4 times more expensive than receiving data from space.

Yes I've been with the same carrier for 6 years, but I'm using a pre-paid plan, and I get better deals than customers with contracts. I can also scale down my monthly payments ... i.e. I'm only paying for included 3G traffic when I need it.

That's odd. I'm with Sprint. On a legacy plan from 2002. I get unlimited data for $10/month. They've never screwed me over, AFAIK.

And, yes all this for $300. The choice you've made is to presumably pay $500 or more for the phone, and then maybe marginally cheaper monthly fees. Although I'd argue that my monthly fees are quite likely cheaper than yours, although its in a plan you can no longer get. But Sprint still grandfathered contracted customers with it.

And last time I checked, all of the major cell phone carriers allow you to buy the phone w/o a contract. So feel free to spend the $500 for a phone. No one is stopping you.

> So feel free to spend the $500 for a phone. No one is stopping you.

Actually I'm not spending $500 for a phone who's battery only lasts for a single day and has signal issues ... most smartphones are like that, I know ... unfortunately for all their capabilities, are kind of uncomfortable for making phone calls.

I do have an iPhone 3GS, but I consider it a handheld with 3G connectivity that happens to be able to make phone calls.

I'm paying 9 euros for a data plan with 1 GB per month / ~ 7.2 Mbps (the actual speed I'm getting, the plan is for ~11 Mbps).

Of course, I live in Europe where prepaid plans are much more popular, being an area with lots of competition ... which makes sense since the cost of switching is low.

I would also like to point out, that the reason for this is that Nokia has been fighting carriers from since they started making phones, up to and including lobbying for legislation that banned network-locked cell phones in many countries.

Why do you thing they never made much headway in the USA? Because Verizon and AT&T spent more money greasing the congress, and Nokia didn't want to give up.

Nokia never made much headway in the USA because all of their good models were GSM phones -- in the US that meant t-mobile or AT&T -- and back before the iPhone appeared most US cell phone users were on CDMA networks (Verizon and Sprint.) Nokia decided to roll their own CDMA chip instead of paying off Qualcomm (big mistake) and ended up with a weak presence in the CDMA market. Nokia screwed the pooch all on their own when it came to fumbling the US market.

Android phones in Germany (except for G1 and N1) are still dependent on the manufacturer for OS updates and so on. The user (you) can't decide you want 2.2 on your phone when it's released.

And you can in the US?

What other phones can be updated without manufacturer support?

Even for the ADP1(G1) and the N1 you need some binary-only files from HTC.

I was successful in building Froyo for my N1. Not so much for the ADP1. (No GSM and no Wifi) I am missing some binaries that seem not available in the stock 1.6 image for the ADP1.

Not true, you can buy unbranded devices.

It is worth noting that in every region where Apple does not have carrier exclusivity, they sell unlocked phones.

So the locking is an exclusivity / subsidy component.

It seems clear to me, by studying Apple's patents, that they originally wanted the phone to be unlocked and on every carrier, they even tried to end the subsidy system by selling the iPhone direct....

My theory is that carrier exclusivity was the price they paid for maintaining complete control of the OS. This seems to make more sense in the UK, where O2 was the exclusive carrier to begin with, until it was given to the other carriers later on.

It was a bargaining chip.

I agree completely, and they needed the deal to get the first phone out there. Now that it has been such a success, they don't need that leverage band starting to go nonexclusive and to unlock the devices.

Android is only free of carrier abuse if you're geeky enough. However, Apple is only free of carrier abuse if you're affluent enough. The average joe is getting shafted either way. (Though, to continue the class theme, note how offended people are that it's NASCAR apps that they can't uninstall, as opposed to the stock market apps they can't uninstall from Apple). Remember when Sony charged more to remove the junk they themselves put on their machines? The subsidies earned by these bits of software lowered the price for those who would struggle to afford them otherwise and for the geeks who repave as an automatic response, similar to how people spending at the overpriced hotel minibar reduce the room prices for everyone else.

If this is actually considered important for folk in the US, then they're going to have to stop the Apple fanboys in the media using it as a stick to beat Google with and face up to the reality that Apple has failed to change the carrier business model too, just as Google's Nexus One failed. I seem to recall that just like the Nexus One, the iPhone was supposed to be sold direct to consumers at the full unsubsidized price.

I seem to recall that just like the Nexus One, the iPhone was supposed to be sold direct to consumers at the full unsubsidized price.

Excellent point. It was sold unsubsidized initially, but people were apoplectic about spending $600 for a phone. Apple quickly realized that joining the subsidy model was better than fighting it, so they announced the price "cut" on the 3G model and got glowing press, while hardly anyone noticed that with the monthly rate increase customers would be paying more over two years.

Apple has far better taste than the carriers, to be sure. But both agree that you should not have control over "your" hardware.

It may have been unsubsidized, but it was still locked to AT&T and only available with a 2-year contract with an ETF. It was basically the cost of an unsubsidized without any of the benefit.

There's a big difference between the NASCAR app and Apple stock market app. It is exceedingly clear that the NASCAR app was bought by somebody outside of the phone chain (me, manufacturer, service provider) and forced on me. The Apple stock app is a goofy app the manufacturer put on to make sure the home screen wasn't empty.

Yes, it annoys me I have to have a folder of "stuff I don't care about" on my iPhone, but I know Apple and/or AT&T didn't put it there to pad their pockets at my expense and that makes all the difference.

Are you sure that they didn't just think "most of our customers would like this" and simply not bother expending any energy to allow people offended by its existance to remove it? Hanlon's razor and all that? And probably the same thought process Apple used for not making its built in apps removable, more work for them and who really cares so just don't bother?

I'm not in the US so I've no first hand experience so maybe this app is some kind of spyware but I'm not sure how spamming people with sports coverage works as a business model and I've seen various people quite pleased at one or other of the "crapware" things they've got. (It seems like a killer app for the iPad is some baseball app, so I can see how people might think that sports coverage is something people actually want.)

"people spending at the overpriced hotel minibar reduce the room prices for everyone else" only works in a very competitive marketplace where prices are necessarily driven down by competition. Otherwise, the hotel just figured out how to wring out more profit by simply offering an overpriced minibar.

> Android is only free of carrier abuse if you're geeky enough. However, Apple is only free of carrier abuse if you're affluent enough.

Not sure about that dichotomy: unsubsidized, both cost roughly the same, and for both, root/jailbreaks are free.

I think you're perhaps only comparing the Android handsets that get featured on sites like engadget. They'll occasionally laugh at some low-end phone and wonder aloud who on earth would buy something like that but generally they just ignore them. Apple has as much intention of fighting for that market as they do of entering the netbook space.

"Android is only free of carrier abuse if you're geeky enough."

Or if your carriers behave. In most parts of the world they do nowadays.

I agree with the main arguments. Although as others pointed out this is mostly an american problem (though it still occurs abroad, but less so).

But I find this argument naive: "But this pipe dream is being crushed quickly. The carriers, after giving up ground initially, are fighting back. They are using Android’s openness against the company."

The point is: if Google hadn't done that, the carriers may very well not have supported it. Let's remember that although now we consider Android a strong contender, at the time Android was neither that strong, nor the only contender. I'd be ready to bet that other carriers supported Android as much to hurt Apple as because they knew they could control it.

Personally I'd go as far as to say that Google developed Android the way they did fully aware that this could happen: the bottom line is that Google doesn't make money from Android, and as nobody holds the market in the palm of their hand Google is happy... even though it may mean basically subsidising other companies fight against Apple (at the time).

> The point is: if Google hadn't done that, the carriers may very well not have supported it.

I don't buy this argument. This is one of those slippery slope arguments that are used to justify everything. Let's say you're a Cisco and you want to sell routers and network gear to the Chinese. You can either give their government back doors to spy on traffic and make it easy for them, guaranteeing the business will go to you, or you can take the moral high ground and refuse to build these features into your products. Too often big companies like Cisco, Google, and Microsoft take the approach that money trumps all morality concerns, and we end up with a big brother police state enabled by the very technology companies that were supposed to save us from this future.

Google should do what Apple did and stick to their guns - refuse to let carriers mess with Android.

The first Android phones were nothing compared to the iPhone. Giving everything (including revenues) to the carriers and manufacturers is exactly why Android exists now.

Google could have stuck to their guns, but the situation would be unchanged.

It's pretty comical that half of the responses in this thread are trying to place the blame on either Apple or Google.

I don't see it as the same as Apple vs. Google. Apple and Google both have to fight the carriers and they have positions with different strengths and weaknesses.

I think both want to break the carriers power and end up with open networks, but their strategies are very different.

A new 3G carrier, Videotron, just launched in Quebec and I was surprised to see that they offer the Nexus One:


I'm not sure how much they've modded it though, or if it can be as easily unlocked/rooted as one bought straight from Google.

Yesterday I gave a friend's Galaxy S a spin and was mighty impressed. It's light as a feather, the screen is gorgeous and it's an order of magnitude more responsive than my old iphone 3G. I was all set to buy an iphone4, but samsung's device game me pause. So I asked about the apps. What good stuff was there on the Android Market? "Well", he started, "there really isn't one, because the carrier doesn't allow it. I just get the apps my carrier lists on its website". I think that's preposterous, so as impressed as I am with the Galaxy S, I'm afraid I'll be sticking with Apple's product (I live in Portugal... experience will probably vary from carrier to carrier and country to country).

Blocking the Market is something Google really should put a stop to. I've never seen this, though, myself. Then again, buy unlocked and it's not a problem

Still, if you you liked the phone, then get one via another carrier.

Yeah, I'm going to compare the two more thoroughly before I buy. Right now I'm leaning towards the iphone4 but that's just because of the apps. Hardware-wise, from what I've seen, they're about in the same league.

Keep in mind you're comparing a brand new, state of the art Android phone with a 2 year old iPhone. Technology has improved quite a bit on both platforms. You should probably check out an iPhone 4 and compare it with the Galaxy S instead of the iPhone 3G.

What is the rationale behind blocking the market? Is it because the carriers are worried that you'll get a bandwidth hungry app? It just strikes me as completely preposterous and backward thinking.

That's very strange (the carrier not allowing access to the market). I've never heard of such a thing in any of the Portuguese carriers (TMN/Vodafone/Optimus). Are your sure that's the problem?

Also, It's pretty easy to install apps through the .apks and unofficial markets. Aptoide is an alternative to the Official Android Market.

The carriers annoy me orders of magnitude more than even the worst iPhone or Android troll could.

Back in the 1990s, Apple, as prescient as always, proposed to the FCC that certain spectrum be set aside for "wireless internet use". This spectrum would have been open to anybody, and would have allowed anybody, using spread spectrum to operate a data network, nationwide.

The reason we're in the spot we're in, and the carriers have so much control, is that the FCC issued only three licenses for each goegraphic area in the spectrum auctions. This limits competition and ensures a near monopoly pricing power for the big three carriers. Subsequent changes have loosened this a little bit, but not a lot.

The real problem here is the idea that spectrum can be "owned" and that our government gets to dictate (based on bribes- which is what spectrum "Sales" are really) who gets to "own" the spectrum.

Apple tried, and I believe google tried recently, to create unowned spectrum. Spread spectrum technology lets people share space-- hell Wifi works on the same frequency as microwave ovens, and still manages to work when the microwave is running. I cant think of a harsher environment than that!

So long as government has a ruthless grip on spectrum, and forces us to deal with the three headed monopoly, there is a limit to how much freedom of choice we can have.

As a Canadian, I'm still jealous of the wireless options you guys have. Sure, we can have an iPhone on all major carriers, and we can tether too, but I still feel like the rates and plans you guys get are more competitive than ours.

In my opinion, Apple & the carriers are on the same side of this fight. Who controls your phone? The user or some big corporation?

The difference between Apple & the carriers is that Apple is far more competent in its control, carefully avoiding short term gains at the expense of long term gains. Locking crappy adware apps into your phones is an obvious long term mistake that Apple would never make.

Being more competent, Apple is much more dangerous.

Clearly the carriers should be regulated. In the Netherlands they are and we have the cheapest rates (between our narrow borders, outside the borders they screw us double).

For instancen we can keep our number when switching carriers or unlock phones after the contract's finished.

I'd say regulations are needed in order to keep the market from degrading into customer-slavery. :)

> For instancen we can keep our number when switching carriers

This has also been possible in the U.S. for as long as cell phones have been widespread. Presumably there is a regulatory reason because I can't imagine a strong reason a carrier would implement it otherwise.

This has also been possible in the U.S. for as long as cell phones have been widespread.

For values of "as long as" shorter than fourteen years, that is:

In the US, local number portability was mandated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1996 with the First Report and Order on LNP and Number Pooling.

Those of us who owned cell phones in the early 1990s remember very well how screwed we used to be.

This has only been possible in the U.S. since 2004


Keep in mind that regulation that forces carriers to be open will entrench the incumbents (that will do absolutely nothing in favour of customers when not a gunpoint) at the cost of new offerings that makes a play to disrupt the market.

The time when regulators gets their eyes open to this problem, is about the same time that regular customers do the same and get ready to leave the incumbents. Best case, you've regulation that says the carriers are supposed to do something they were already going to do, worst case you stripped a potentially disruptive play of it's advantage.

Your model of how the world works seems contradictory to the parent's model. In order to decide which model works better in the real world, we can see which more accurately reflects things today.

Netherlands: cheapest rates, entrenched incumbents, good service, unlocked phones, number portability

US: more expensive, entrenched incumbents, middling service, locked phones, number portability

Parent's model more closely matches reality! We have a winner!

This particular market has never been free in the way you seem to think, and the "disruption" you are hypothesizing has some extremely high barriers to entry (first rollout a national infrastructure, second ...), which have prevented it from occurring at all.

The reason local rates in Europe are so low is not regulation of the rates, it's regulation of the carriers, forcing them to open up the networks they build subsidized to competitors basically at cost, in part through mobile virtual network operator agreements. This removes the barrier to entry, I think in Denmark starting a MVNO takes a deposit on the scale of $8-10.000.

This is also reflected in the outrageous prices for roaming - this market is not opened up.

I suspect the case in the US is that the carriers aren't forced to open up in the same way.

But, the essence of my disagreement with the GPs post is the idea that entering a two-year contract to get a subsidized phone is "customer-slavery", "clearly" in need of regulation. Just get an unlocked phone and a monthly/pay-go plan. (Putting an APR on the contract I could get behind, though).

I've done that, and with my actual usage pattern it's significantly cheaper over two years (actually, I've been upgrading more like every year for a while), because I also don't need the big plan I'm forced into when buying subsidized. I haven't done the math counting in interest on buying the phone, but I'd be surprised if it didn't still come out cheaper.

This is war. And this war will go nothing like Apple v. Microsoft. This is about who controls the experience

Quite disturbing that "the user" is not one of the plausible answers.

To say it's disturbing is a bit of a stretch. "Disappointing" is what I would call it.

In most wars, it's the people who don't have power that suffer.

But they do have power: buying power. Maybe one could somehow give them the information they require. Of course the operators have done a good job obfuscating the information.

Maybe some people don't want to be helped, either.

It seems that only Apple is left trying to maintain control over the device/experience/software. This is a shame since with some decent competition (read: Google), the grip of the carriers could have been loosened further.

Jobs deserves credit for convincing the carriers to relinquish some control (despite the fact we might not like who he made those deals with). It would be tragic if things went back to the way they were before.

".. reducing them to what they should be: regulated pipe providers just like your gas and electric company."

I come from India, the second largest mobile market in the world. (Its a complete mystery why we got 3G just a few months back, but atleast we re getting there). The key in India is that the providers are just that, regulated pipe providers and one only pays for service. I m free to go buy whichever phone I want and do whatever the hell I want with it. I dont have to be in "contract" and I dont have to keep going near windows to make phone calls.

This has certainly been my experience with my Verizon DroidX. Fantastic hardware, and I love Android, but it came loaded up with crapware I can't uninstall. A Blockbuster App!? Hell, why not put AOL on it while we're at it.

It's tempting to envision a world where phones are like PCs, that you'd just pick one out from Fry's and then install any apps you want (after choosing an app store that you liked) and then hooking up to some voice/text/data plan that you liked, and competition makes all the players work hard for your business...

But I think the paradox of choice kicks in, somewhat, in that users really like the iPhone world's somewhat-curated experience, and that you get a base set of well-built apps that are provided by Apple for the basics (phone, texting, web, email) and they form the core of your mobile usage until you start adding in your own apps.

Having said that, I'd love to be able to pick a carrier for my iPhone, but I don't want the fractured environment/ecosystem of Android.

The scenario you describe - where you just pick a phone like a PC - is what the carriers are trying to avoid. That turns them into a commodity, a bunch of wires.

They'll obviously fight that to the death, hence the customising of phones, the exclusive models, the provision of non-transferable services, handset subsidies and doing everything they can to prevent the average user seeing the alternatives.

The problem is that so long as they keep doing handset subsidies, they'll likely keep winning. I know someone who has just bought a Dell Streak on a two year contract. He got it free but over time he's going to pay more for it than he would for an iPad. Now he's a smart guy - if he's not thinking in those terms you can bet the average consumer isn't.

Basically the networks are providing cheap credit to tie people in to overpriced telecoms services and the consumers love it because it means that for $50 a month (which you can afford) you can have a $600 phone (which you can't, at least not easily).


We need to stop the carriers (through banking regulation, ideally) from behaving like incredibly dishonest banks the way they are now. At the very least they should be forced to break out the handset subsidy amortization on your bill - IOW your bill would show $25 for your voice service, $25 for your data service, and then $15 for your handset amortization. Moreover they'd have to list a proper interest rate and how much of your principle is left with each bill.

Once people visibly see the handset amortization on their bill, they can reasonably ask, "if I didn't upgrade to a new phone, why am I still paying handset amortization?"

At some point, someone will enter the market and provide "just the pipe". Or, the telcos will fight themselves into that situation. We just have a lot of historical baggage to work through first.

Telcos are already a commodity, there's just a bit of cognitive dissonance going on.

A network requires a massive investment to build, it sadly makes no sense for someone to spend that money and then comoditize the market taking the bulk of the profit out if it.

I think any change will be more gradual, each carrier having to relinquish little bits more control over time to please users and other companies in the market (such as Apple and maybe Google who could threaten to withdraw funding for Android if the carriers keep screwing with it so much).

I hope so. Can it happen without government regulation?

The system you described is implemented in parts of Europe, specifically in Eastern Europe - the cell phone and voice/data plan markets are separated completely. As a result, the prices are very low and the network coverage is much better than in the North America.

Will we ever see a separated appstore ecosystem anywhere?

Behold. It's called PC+Windows+Stem

I meant for phones :-)

Let's not forget that this is all fairly US-centric; In Europe the handset manufacturers are more powerful. As a consumer, you select a device first and add-on the network operator after. That's 180 off from what's going on the in US. However, it hasn't created the device innovation that we see now in the US with Google and Apple weighing in...

Can you install whichever OS you like in European handsets?

Something else to question: is the GSM/CDMA split partially to blame here for intensive carrier lock-ins? I like to follow the US carrier market, but from the perspective that in my own country the last CDMA network was shut down in 2008. Here I can choose to buy a carrier branded phone with a subsidy, or as many people do - just buy a phone outright and pay month-to-month swapping carriers as simply as swapping the SIM card.

I am not a fan of the iPhone because of its dependency on iTunes. iTunes is an overweight bloated piece of junk and I won't go back to Windows just to run it.

I am not a fan of Android because each individual maker gets to decide if you can have an update or not. That would be like buying a Dell PC and then having to go through Dell, not Microsoft, for Windows Updates.

So for now, I will keep going with my non-smart phone. At least until things change.

"I am not a fan of the iPhone because of its dependency on iTunes. iTunes is an overweight bloated piece of junk and I won't go back to Windows just to run it."

You do know they will activate for you in the store and then only time you ever have to use iTunes again is when an update comes out? Now, this means your phone will not get backed up, but if you set Google up as an Exchange server all your emails, contacts, and calendar items are stored on the cloud anyway.

You're wrong.

You still need iTunes to put music on your phone

On linux you have http://www.libimobiledevice.org/ which worked until the most recent update to iOS4. I'm going to assume they'll get it working again shortly.

Doubletwist also syncs music on the iPhone.

Then you can always download music directly onto the phone or use any of the streaming apps.

Android - good deeds fell in the wrong hands, nuff said. Welcome to Corporate America

Given Google's approach to Android, it looks like carriers are going to treat Android phones as feature phones and not smart phones. This might be ok for the user, but it certainly is looking like it will hurt developers and power users.

The continued existence of non-commodity broadband providers is going to be a pain for everything on top of the stack.

My question is who won this battle when Verizon and Apple negotiated the iphone coming out next year. I'm guessing Verizon wasn't able to get any crapware on there beyond Apple's standard crap, but you never know, Apple really wanted to expand beyond AT&T.

As far as Android, I get the sense that Google is not happy with this situation and they do have one big stick they can use, access to Android Market.

I'd also like to remind the ridiculous Google haters that it was Google that fought the FCC and the carriers to get open access rules added to the bandwidth auctioned off in 2008, those rules should loosen at least what Verizon does in the future.

>I'd also like to remind the ridiculous Google haters

Ugh, people who don't fall in love with the same things you do aren't necessarily haters.

iPhone is a Gadget. Android is an Operating system. Why are we comparing them?

This article highlights why I'm a fan of apple more than google. Apple is going to exert the power to control the carriers. Apple is about the only company that can, or will, exert this kind of power.

I hope google changes, and starts getting control over os installation.... But I can't see that happening.

In this case, the openness of android works against google.

As an app developer, I'm keen to put products out for android, but the combination of fragmentation and very slow adoption of latest releases by the android mass market are two of the biggest hurdles.

Apples market has little fragmentation and high hardware consistency.

But I digress. Without google imposing some licensing terms, android users are always going to have a poor os upgrade experience, it seems.

And I thin android is at risk of carriers introducing bloatware that you cannot uninstall.

Let's not kid ourselves - all the power Apple wrestled away from AT&T it kept for itself - the consumer didn't see much of a change, or saw a regression.

Prior to the iPhone, loading your own apps and changing settings on your smartphone was standard practice. What Apple did was bring the featurephone practice (jumping through somebody's beaurocracy to get to consumers) to the smartphone market. Suddenly, being in control of your own smartphone is an "openness feature".

Now, to loyal Apple fans, who love and trust Apple, this transfer of power/control from AT&T to Apple is the same as them (the Apple consumer) seeing benefits. To other people, it just means dealing with someone else, without any change in the fact that you still have to go through somebody.

There's a huge difference between a phone maker having control and a network having control.

Consider: When Verizon doesn't allow mp3 ringtones ... well, you just don't get phones with mp3 ringtones on their network [1].

When Apple doesn't allow mp3 ringtones, Verizon is compelled to open the door to Android phones that happily allow mp3 ringtones so that they can compete.

The only reason Verizon and AT&T have rolled back any of their customary phone-crippling practices is because other phones must compete with the iPhone.

Consumers have 'won' to an astounding degree since the iPhone released. I don't know anyone who's purchased a phone in the last three years, that didn't wind up with a device head and shoulders more capable and well designed than what they had before.

Frankly, I can't think of anything remotely close to a 'regression' that actual consumers would have been forced to swallow post-iPhone.

[1] Yes, I completely discount the existence of unlocked unsubsidized phones on US networks prior to the iPhone. 1. they were horrible, 2. there was no break on service fee for having an unsubsidized phone, if not an outright charge for bringing your own unlocked phone, making the effective price wildly prohibitive.

I just dont get this line of reasoning, i had a mediocre Windows phone on Verizon, and i could do anything on it including mp3 ringtones. there was no restriction on any element, that was before the iPhone was around.

I dont really trust either the operator or the phone manufacturer to restrict my phone experience, why should the choice for the consumer be a lesser of two evils when the obvious solution is right there, that is, no lock to either (if the consumer so chooses), i dont see the difference between restrictions imposed on sideloading regardless of the source

Frankly i consider not being able to change the default OS keyboard (say use swype instead) or default music player, or be forced to use Itunes a regression. Not to mention i have to connect it to a computer (an Authorized one at that to update the iphone, again forced to use that awful piece of software forced on me by the manufacturer)

If we suppose that the competition with the Iphone creates a better ground for consumer freedom, then it would not suffer from new players, on the contrary, it might force the iphone to be more open as well.

> "Frankly i consider not being able to change the default OS keyboard (say use swype instead) or default music player, or be forced to use Itunes a regression."

But you have none of those limitations on an Android phone. So how has the market regressed? Many, many more people are enjoying device freedom well beyond what your windows CE phone enjoyed and you're calling that regression just because one vendor doesn't?

Has the market regressed if Windows Phone 7 ships without replaceable keyboards? Was it regression when the Pre shipped without that?

Is it a regression of Android if a single Android handset ships with unremoveable crapware?

Or is the state of the market still improving, because even gimped android devices are head-and-shoulders better than consumer phones three years ago, non-gimped Android device choices abound and a new MS Phone and Pre are around the corner?

I guess you could argue that it wasn't the iPhone that forced Verizon (and AT&T) to offer these newer, better handsets without locking them down as they often would with even Windows CE and Blackberry phones (consider the state of data plans in the pre-iphone world).

But to that I would simply direct you to the lag between the G1 and the Droid, the lack of a Nexus One on Verizon, the rate of handset innovation in the last three years compared to the previous 7 and to the timing of the 'open network' pledge vs the iPhone announcement.

Without the iPhone upending the Apple cart, would you get a Pre? Would Microsoft be pushing Windows Phone to consumers? Would the Blackberry have a decent browser? Would Verizon be advertising consumer phones that aren't locked to their app market, ringtone market, etc? I just don't see it.

I Should be clear, i am now using Android and I am very happy with it. the ability to sideload gave me Swype beta which is not afforded through the android market.

If the service provider chooses to block sideloading on android, then they diminish the quality of the device. if the device has disabled sideloading by design by Apple, then it is also diminished in quality, to claim that restrictions made by one are preferable to the other just doesn't make any sense to me.

Apple surely had a great effect on the quality of manufactured devices as well as the range of offering, but i doubt that they had much of an effect on the openness of said devices.

If i understand the article, then the gist of it is that the quality of Android is stymied by service providers, that is true, but it is also true that you can compare apples to apples here, that is, which network provides me the best android experience, and that is a competitive advantage, there is no such option for the Iphone.

Put simply, let the service provider who offers the best most open and reliable experience win. Somehow there is this idea gaining audience, that the Android's "openess" is actually detrimental to it advancement, i just dont see how that can be true on the long run.

Right now, because we are stuck with oligopoly of cellular providers, there is little choice, this will not change until more service providers enter this field.

The statement above "Apple is going to exert the power to control the carriers. Apple is about the only company that can, or will, exert this kind of power" is naive.

Apple has no such power, quite the contrary, it is locked to a single US service provider that doesn't give their clients the best quality of service, consumers that are on AT&T that dont have the iphone dont seem to flock en mass to get one, and consumers on other networks, dont seem to migrate en mass to AT&T just to get it, so the market for Iphone in the US is increasingly limited.

A game of chicken of sorts, we will see who blinks first. The service providers limit access to device hardware in their stores the same manner that apple limits access to software on its online store, it is the practice rather then the practitioner that is at fault here.

The iPhone didn't make competitors take the open route. But if not for the iPhone, Verizon certainly would never have considered allowing Android devices on their network, let alone subsidized and championed them.

The gist of the article is that all phones are stymied by service providers. Even Apple, for all the ground it's gained for its own interests, has been hamstrung by arbitrary carrier requirements and restrictions.

You may have faith in the market alone to deliver unencumbered Android devices. I do not. The short history we have to this point has shown the US duopoly interested in competing only on how much functionality each successive device can gate off.

The carriers have every financial incentive to carve out functionality and wall it off behind premium fees. They have an incredibly strong incentive to not allow themselves to become commoditized data pipes. And they have demonstrated repeated preference for sharing the market over 'playing to win' at a lower rate of profit.

If the US duopoly is willing to collude on gimped android[1], as all evidence has shown, there is no market threat in not shipping an unencumbered Android phone.

[1] it needn't be official collusion; merely a lack of strong competitive moves in an area, as long as the other holds the line. E.g. the situation with US plan pricing, data plan policy and pricing, tethering charges, texting rates, feature-phone features prior to 2007, etc.

Let's not forget; way back in 2007, Apple went to Verizon first, and Verizon passed on the iPhone. Verizon just wasn't willing to give up any control to Apple. Way back when, Verizon deliberately disabled the Bluetooth stack on their phones, so you had to use their fee-based service to do something like copy photos off your phone.

> There's a huge difference between a phone maker having control and a network having control.

There is, but it only distracts you from understanding that you should be the only one in control of your phone.

Understanding how things "should" be has nothing to do with being able to recognize improvements in the World That Is.

You can know that you should be able to load an arbitrary mp3 as a ringtone on an iPhone, and still prefer the current state of affairs to the state of things a mere three years ago. I do.

Should is a funny word. Just because our perception of fairness dictates that we should control our phones, its just not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

I'd say this particular should is more a question of enlightened self interest, rather than fairness.

It is in our long term interest to have as much control of our "digital assistants" (which includes both smartphones and personal computers) in order to ensure that they assist us, and not some other party.

And your network! Right?

Pfft. Smartphones used to be more open because they were the Lexus LSA that gets customers excited about buying their $20k Toyta (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect#As_a_business_model). Anything was acceptable because they were not seen as a primary market to optimize.

Enter the iPhone, the first smartphone to achieve mass market. The iPhone requires a premium data plan. The iPhone requires an additional data plan to tether only on AT&T. AT&T may have gotten veto power over certain apps in the AppStore. They certainly had input on the maximum file limits over cellular. You see that Apple has considerable power, and that AT&T still has power, but what you don't see is that the consumer has more power in this equation than in the Android formula. Android users can't even install a vanilla OS or their own updates half of the time.

Overall the consumer may have less power than in previous smartphone systems, but to lament this is to assume that the carriers would allow a previous smartphone system to become as dominant as the iPhone without imposing restrictions similar to the state of Android.

Pretty sure that Blackberries were pretty popular before the iPhone.

Blackberries were corporate purchases with more restrictions than any iPhone. The parent was talking about consumer purchased smartphones like Windows Mobile or Symbian.

You touched on this in your last paragraph, but I think it still deserves saying: Apple wields a lot of the power it wrenched away from carriers to the benefit of it's consumers. I'm stoked that my iPhone doesn't com preloaded with crap ware and that my girlfriend's 3 year old device receives OS updates immediately once they are released to the public.

You've got to be kidding. The iPhone has attracted hoards of new consumers to Apple who were not previously "loyal Apple fans, who love[d] and trust[ed] Apple". Apparently many normal people feel that they saw a major change for the better after this power redistribution.

>Apparently many normal people feel that they saw a major change for the better after this power redistribution.

I would attribute the uptake of smartphones to the standard, endless evolution of technology. And while they fell behind, there is absolutely no doubt that Blackberry blazed the path after Windows Mobile faltered.

//the consumer didn't see much of a change, or saw a regression

The consumers did see a change. The phones beacame usable (pleasure to use) from being unusable (pain to use).

And model selection came down from dozens to two. You can have it in any color, as long as it's either black or white.

This is what we call political point-scoring. I am trying to get a point across on a particular subject (power/control) and you're trying to muddle up the conversation by talking about something else completely.

Prior to the iPhone, apps on an a phone were paying $3/month to a carrier for crappy junk. The phones were locked down. It was far from "standard practice" to load your own apps onto your own phone, and the apps you could choose to use were highly limited and far more controlled.

I think people forget that before the Apple AppStore there really were very few apps for phones.

I think you're confusing smartphones and feature phones. You're right that the experience of apps on feature phones was lackluster (it still is actually). The iPhone helped catapult smartphones into the mainstream, but there wasn't a lack of smartphone software before the iPhone. Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile (and BlackBerry to a lesser degree) all had a wide array of apps available before the iPhone was ever announced.

It's pretty clear to most people that the smartphone app market that exists today is qualitatively different than the one that existed before the App Store. I think that's the point the parent was trying to make.

Definitely. The emphasis now is to get your potential users to spend 99c as many times as possible (with "do one thing" and shiny graphics; see "fart apps"). Previously, everything was either free, or something you found for $20 at some commercial vendor's website.

You either didn't read my post or you're deliberately being obtuse to make your point - there was a huge difference between smartphones and featurephones.

What you're describe is the featurephone app model, which Apple made more user and developer friendly and brought to the smartphone arena.

I used to have a blackberry (and yes, I had both apps and games on it) and when I bought the original iPhone, I had to jailbreak it in order to be able to do the same things I could do before. That's a regression.

I think people forget that before the Apple AppStore there really were very few apps for phones.

really? i've owned a palm treo and nokia e71 that both had hundreds of applications available that i could just download and install right from the device's web browser. no market, no restrictions.

> I think people forget that before the Apple AppStore there really were very few apps for phones.

Fewer than today, sure. But Windows Mobile had thousands of apps and a pretty decent app development ecosystem.

Yup. And I'm starting to wonder if in the end Android isn't going to reverse the trend towards carrier openness started by the iPhone. (A quick aside, when I say carrier openness, I mean that the carrier starts acting as just a data conduit, instead of imposing their branding everywhere on the user experience. So the iPhone introduced manufacturer-initiated updates, no operator logos stuck on the phone, apps controlled by Apple, not the operator, etc. The iPhone experience is the same regardless of which operator you find yourself on, around the world).

So, with Android proving itself to be a decent competitor to the iPhone, it has reduced Apple's bargaining power with operators. That, added to the fact that the "openness" of Android ironically allows the operators to lock it down, means that we may very well be seeing the end of a very short era where handset manufacturers could dictate a decent amount of the user experience. If the difference between the iPhone and all previous phones is an indicator, this is a great shame.

>dded to the fact that the "openness" of Android ironically allows the operators to lock it down

Why would this be ironic? It's very obvious that the more open you are the more people can do exactly what they want, and that includes locking down.

I don't have any figures to back this up, but frankly I would be astonished if it turned out that most people didn't expect 'open' to mean 'not locked down'. The trick is that Android isn't actually open for all parties concerned, only for the integrator. The integrator may then decide to make the resulting device open, but that is not a foregone conclusion, as proven by some of the devices beginning to appear on the market. But that message isn't what is being marketed - people are being told that Android is 'open', by which they naturally understand that they can do what they want with their device. But in reality, not so much. Anyway, way too many words to say that this is a very ironic result if you don't take care to explicitly define the parties concerned when talking about openness/locked downedness of a device...

I agree that Apple has done a lot to reduce carrier control, but I don't like Apple's control either. The main issue I have with them is not allowing sideloading of apps and their strict control over the App Store. I see that as just as evil as what a lot of the carriers were doing beforehand. That's why I look more toward Android than Apple. Yes, Android is not as free or open for the end consumer as it could be because Google has made too many concessions to carriers (modifying UI, apps that cannot be uninstalled, slow updates, etc). However, their model is still far more open than iOS, for the simple fact that you can install anything you want on it. Yes, Google still does not allow all apps in the Marketplace, but there's still sideloading.

Edit: Just to make it clear, I agree with the article. I don't mean to say that Google/Android will fix everything. The real issue is still the carriers. However, I think Google is a better example of open than Apple, even if that works against them sometimes.

>I see that as just as evil as what a lot of the carriers were doing beforehand.

Seeing Apple's behavior as evil is just not rational. It is a simple, obvious trade off. By having the control they do they can control the iPhone experience and make sure as few people as possible have a bad experience (and since they're selling phones they want to make sure no uninformed user can blame the phone for a bad experience. The only way to do that is try to make sure they can't download misbehaving apps). The cost are: people can do every possible thing they would want to and may not like that, developers have to wait for their app to be on the store, it may get rejected, etc.

Android chose the opposite, an app marketplace that's almost completely open (I'm assuming they don't allow obvious malicious software). This is not more or less evil, it is simply a different trade off. The costs are: people can do anything they want and will sometimes do bad things (accidentally or on purpose), etc.

People need to take the emotion out of the argument. The iPhone isn't becoming a legislated requirement or anything, there is no reason to get emotional about it.

Think about it this way. You can install any app you want on your iPhone as well.

The thing is, Apple charges $99 a year for the privilege. Get a developer account, and run whatever you want.

In order to have any security, you need to sign executables, and Apple's $99 essentially covers the cost of doing that. This is much better than the $100 per app up to many thousands that previously you'd have to pay.

Maybe unsigned executables is a risk you're willing to take on, but given the level of derogatory misinofrmation that people spread about apple as it is, I understand why they want to limit the potential damage. The media does not distinguish between some code downloaded over the internet for jailbroken phones and something from the appstore, as it is.

And everyone is apparently very eager to make hay whenever they can blame something on Apple.

Let me describe an app that doesn't exist, would do well in the app store, but will never be allowed.

What the app does does, is turn the iPhone into a normal usb drive when connected to a computer. On top of that, your music is available in normal folders, that you can drag to your computer. Additionally, you can drag music onto that drive, and the music will be playable on the iPhone after you disconnect.

(Yes, iPhoneBrowser and DiskAid kind of allow you to do this, but I'm talking about having the iPhone handle it natively.)

And y'know what?

I blame Apple for this app not existing.

$100 doesn't allow me to run whatever I want if it doesn't exist.

Most people don't need or want what you're describing. I use iTunes (on OSX) and I like it. I prefer it to manually laying out folders of music. Folders don't make sense for music anyway because how the songs should be organized depends on what mood I'm in at the time. Tags would be much better. Which is what you can do with iTunes.

The problem with having to buy a developer account or jailbreak the phone is that many of the apps that wouldn't be approved never get written. The commercial viability of an app is somewhat limited when the first step in the installation instructions is "jailbreak your phone".

Android apps that appear in the top 10-20 paid apps require rooting which is more or less the same barrier of entry. (I can't remember if this requires you to check "unknown sources" or not. Maybe by default they don't appear)

> but the combination of fragmentation and very slow adoption of latest releases by the android

Actually, Android is doing not doing worse if not better than iOS here thanks to over-the-air updates of android. To update your iOS you need to connect it to a PC and sync it with iTunes, too much for many people whereas Android updates automatically over the air which makes updates applied very fast once available, check out the numbers here:


> Apples market has little fragmentation and high hardware consistency.

>But I digress. Without google imposing some licensing terms, android users are always going to have a poor os upgrade experience, it seems.

Again, I couldn't disagree more. Not having to use iTunes and over-the-air updates is such a better experience than updating an iPhone, so much that Android users update their OS sooner than iPhone users. Plus if you look at the stats, most of the big phones got their update 1 to 2 months after the official release of Froyo, so it's not that bad. And if you have a Nexus or a rooted phone, it's instant upgrade.

The upgrade experience is better - but you do that a lot less than making phone calls.

I had an iPhone and just switched to Android. After a couple of days Android is annoying me. With my iPhone, after unlocking my phone I hold the home button then click on a name to make a call.

On Android, I unlock the device, click Phone, click favorites, click the name, then click call. I went from 2 clicks to 6. Its just not as usable.

My fiance got a Palm Pre and despite the lack of "apps" I like the interface way more than Android phones.

When you first got your iPhone, you probably had no idea that you could hold the home button to get to your favorites. By the same token, there are similar shortcuts on Android which you probably have yet to discover. Holding the search button to voice dial would be one option, like the other poster in this thread said. On HTC devices, there is a favorites widget, so that potentially you could be calling one of your favorites in merely one click.

Another thing is that Android's extensibility automatically lends itself to your being able to customize your personal user experience in a vast multitude of different ways. If you really wanted to maintain the "hold the home button and get contacts" behavior of the iPhone, for example, you could replace the stock launcher with a third-party application like ADW.Launcher or Launcher Pro and then modify the home button behavior.

You can just say 'call bob' and it will make the call.

As a developer of both iPhone and Android apps, I see the biggest problem with Android as being the friction to buy.

On iPhone, every single person is pretty wealthy, and more importantly, has a credit card entered into iTunes. On Android, the first app you buy usually involves inputting CC information.

If Android can't address this issue, then the handset measure is meaningless. Android will need to sell 100 or 1000x more than iPhone to create the same market for developers like me.

There are many many countries you cannot use Android marketplace at all.

Actually I think the opposite. Google and MS will exert more control over carriers. MS in particular.

The problem with Apple is that they signed an exclusivity agreement with a single carrier. I'm sure that if Google told Verizon, "The only place an Android phone will be for the next four years is Verizon", Verizon would jump through hoops for them.

But by getting the phone on all carriers, yet still doing 90% of what Apple is doing on a single carrier is impressive.

And MS has taken this a step further with the hardware requirements and no skinning, and one centralized market. Yet, they're doing this across all carriers.

You make it sound easy. Apple would have loved for nothing more than having their phone on every carrier. But at the time they were a nobody in the mobile arena, and not only was their phone a huge departure but they also wanted to keep the look and feel untouched and have the carrier implement some ad hoc changes for things like visual voicemail.

By the time Google had to make a deal, Verizon was seeing their customers moving to AT&T and needed something to rival the iPhone. Before the iPhone Verizon is said to have told Apple that its contract (to have a Verizon iPhone) were not acceptable. I doubt Verizon would have replied like that had the roles been inverted.

Anyway, the exclusivity will hopefully end soon. What will be your stance at that point?

I'm not sure where I said it was easy, or implied it. I'm not even sure what you think I believe is easy.

In any case, my point is simply that exclusivity of a phone OS to a single carrier IMO is not a net win.

And my additional point was that MS is getting most of the win that Apple has today, but is applying it across all carriers.

I think Apple ending the exclusivity will be a great thing. You seem to imply that I'd think otherwise.

But you are comparing apple and oranges. You are comparing Microsoft today with Apple in 2007. There were a _lot_ of people doubting Apple would succeed if they ever tried to move into the phone market. And carriers (at least in the US) had a solid grip on the market.

Nowadays the situation is completely different. Apple had showed that their vision of smartphone is successful: Microsoft (or Google) don't need to prove that anymore. Also carriers have lost a bit of their power, and are more afraid of ending up with a world controlled by one company than before.

The point of the exclusivity is that if it runs out in a few months as many expect, that's pretty much when the new MS phones will come out (give or take a couple of months). So I don't see what damage Apple made.

No, I'm comparing Apple today with MS today. What Apple did in 2007 was great. But the exclusivity that exists to this day, is not, IMO.

I never said that Apple damaged the market. Someone made this comment, "Apple is going to exert the power to control the carriers. Apple is about the only company that can, or will, exert this kind of power."

I said I thought the opposite. That the power to control the carriers will be stronger with Google and MS. Largely because they will be on all the carriers, and while imposing looser requirements on the carriers, capture the core requirements (again, MS in particular -- Google less so).

Lets be clear. I'm not saying Apple has done anything bad, but I do think that their impact has been weakened with their exclusivity for four years on ATT. I find it hard to believe that Apple couldn't have negotiated a shorter exclusivity deal, while losing almost nothing.

Oh, I definitely agree that their impact was weakened by the exclusivity... for a start because Android would have been less popular.

My guess (and it's purely that) is that the deal was extended (maybe one year... dunno) in exchange for the iPad deal. Not a great move, I agree.

Finally, I agree MS stands in a strong position too. But not Google. As long as Android is open, and as long as there are many manufacturers of Android phones, you have a situation where the very few phone companies have an oligopoly on demand and hence have the upperhand: if Motorola doesn't play along, they can go to Sony, or HTC, or Samsung, or LG... and others are coming up soon. Then Motorola can either lose a lucrative business without little harm to the carrier or is forced to oblige.

That said if one particular brand would become the most appealing for some reason, that company would definitely regain some bargaining power.

Apple created real smartphone competition in the form of high quality UI linked to an unlimited data plan. They only needed to get AT&T to move a little before competition forced Verizon etc to keep up.

  And MS has taken this a step further with the hardware
  requirements and no skinning, and one centralized market.
  Yet, they're doing this across all carriers.
And what leverage MS can use? MS first have to convince phone makers to use their OS instead of Android.

I think the balance for Google is whether they fight Apple, or the carriers. Fighting the carriers will fight themselves out of existence. If they cater to the carriers, they can kill the iPhone.

That doesn't mean I like it. Just as locking down devices and forcing apps through the App Store, although beneficial to Apple, doesn't make it good for consumers.

Ultimately, I want an open phone that works on the carrier of my choice. I just don't know if that formula could ever win.

> Just as locking down devices and forcing apps through the App Store, although beneficial to Apple, doesn't make it good for consumers.

Nonsense. Consumers don't want to have to know all kinds of useless details just to be able to use their device. Personally I hate installing software on windows. There is a vast amount of it, but there is no one there making sure it's not going to damage my system (for the most part, of course you can restrict yourself to only software that has the MS seal). On OSX this is slightly better, but I still hate it when that little box opens up asking me to grant access.

On iOS however, I install without much thought. I know that anything I download there has been vetted by someone with a strong interest in making sure their platform doesn't look bad (among some other interests that are less to my benefit). For me the trade off of not ever having to think about this stuff is worth missing out on things like Google Voice.

I don't think the reason Android has been doing well in the US has anything what so ever to do with silly "open" dogma, but rather that it's cheaper and isn't tied to AT&T.

There is nothing wrong with the App Store concept. There is a huge problem with locking down a device that is the property of the consumer. Adults can choose to only install apps from the App Store, and it may or may not be a good idea for most users.

Think about your assertion that the appstore isn't good for consumers. Do you really believe that?

Consumers are not hackers. Consumers do not really understand technology that well. The appstore provides a safe buying experience for consumers, and now, rather than the app marketplace being infintesimal, it is massive and growing quickly.

Apple lit a powderkeg there. How is this not good for consumers?

Imagine if Apple had not provided any protections? You'd have malicious apps all over the place, and constant stories about how bad and dangerous iPhone apps are, and a lot less consumers using apps.

I don't really buy that the iPhone is closed. Any app I can think of that is not evil, Apple will approve for sale on the store. If I want something that doesn't make sense to sell, then I compile it myself and sign it myself with the developer certificate.

The random consumer is not going to be even installing XCode, let alone figuring out how to build even open-source software. So, the $99/year for the keys to sign apps is not really a big deal to me.

You think Firefox and Google Voice are "evil"? Apps that duplicate functionality are "evil"? One more fart app is "evil"?

Your positive regard for the App store may be partly based on ignorance of Apple's stated conditions.

Right, because Apple's influence over AT&T has led to drastic reductions in monthly fees for all iPhone owners and given them access to additional features such as MMS, tethering and unlimited data for free.

The words of someone who obviously never paid for a cellular data connection before the iPhone came along. For approximately the same cost as my previous usb dongle and data plan I get to unplug the dongle from my computer and use it to make phone calls and play games.

Why are we paying for voice/text/data when it is essentially all just data? We should just be paying for data plans. It shouldn't cost extra to tether either.

Surely what you mean is the only additional cost for tethering should be the additional data you use as a result?

It's not unreasonable for the carriers to charge those who use their networks more extra. It's all data but the differences between top end and bottom end users is massive.

This is what annoys me so much about AT&T and their data plans that don't allow tethering without an additional fee. You should either restrict what I can do (e.g. no tethering on basic "unlimited" plans... I understand that) or meter what I use and charge appropriately. Doing both just seems greedy and wrong.

If you're paying for a data plan it shouldn't matter how you use the data. Especially if they are charging you for a set amount say 5GB, what does it matter if that data is coming from tethering or streaming Netflix on an iPhone?

The problem is that while they're happy to sell you 5GB, they will do pretty much anything and everything they can to make sure you don't actually use 5GB.

Walmart of all entities may be disrupting this dysfunctional market: http://money.blogs.time.com/2010/09/14/introducing-walmarts-.... $40 per GB which sounds expensive, except that it doesn't expire. If like most people you use a few hundred MB or less per month, that's a great deal. It looks like it's only available on their crappy phones for now, but hopefully the idea of paying only for data that you actually use will spread.

A mobile telco's entire business model only works because of this distinction. Infrastructure and licenses are expensive. It costs a lot more to shift data than you might imagine.

(I work for a very large global telco)

Surely if you work for a large global telco you understand that bureaucracy and empire building cost a lot.

In many markets payback time for mobile infrastructure is a few years.

If no-one bid high prices for licenses, then they would be cheap. It is surely the expectation that consumers will over pay that creates the problem.

Apple has a lot of very positive points going for it (moreso with their recent changes to be less aggressive towards developers), however many of these pro-iPhone pieces (make no mistake, that is what this submission is, with such a distorted view of the world) could be mechanically written by simply parsing the dominant talking points and mashing them together into some sort of superficial slurry that passes a cursory scan test, but falls apart when you actually look at it with any detail.

EDIT: For those without any sense of informational discretion, let me extract the pertinent pieces-

-Apple made an exclusive deal with AT&T. Meaning they bound themselves to a carrier to a much greater degree than historically normal.

-Facetime doesn't work over anything but WiFi -- this is not a technical limitation. Tethering doesn't work without a tethering plan, after finally, grudgingly, being rolled out. Google Voice was strongly believed to be blocked (along with similar apps) because AT&T vetoed it.

-Apple's original resistance to the whole concept of apps was sold on the idea that apps would go crazy and destroy the network. This, again, was bowing to AT&T.

-Apple absolutely and completely controls everything you install on your device. Comments about AT&T not allowing side-loading seem extraordinary when the champion example is Apple, which simply bars that universally. At least consumers can choose to buy a different Android device, perhaps on another carrier. That option isn't avialable for iOS.

-The fact that the Skype example keeps getting brought up points to the extraordinary shallowness of this argument. Skype got paid money by Verizon, presumably, to provide software for its handsets. This is software business-as-usual as long as time. This has nothing to do with Android, and that it keeps getting conflating as some counter example of openness is pure stupidity.

-The installation of Bing on some Verizon phones is exactly what the Android ecosystem allows. In fact Gruber some time back sarcastically (as such is the level of his wit) opined that maybe Android would get Bing given its "openness" (the point clearly being that of course it never would), yet here it is. That's the point. Consumers can choose to go elsewhere. Microsoft can completely coopt Android for their own purposes if they want, and that is how it is supposed to work.

Android is built on the assumption of competitive forces. Verizon's heavy-handedness on the Galaxy S will lose them customers.

Many of the comments in this discussion point to the extraordinary ignorance there is about the pre-iPhone world. Way prior to the iPhone I worked at a business where we distributed Windows Mobile applications: We required no blessing or grant from Microsoft, and on the handset we had pretty much universal control.

Apple's recent moves have made them decidedly less evil, but these current pro-Apple talking points are outrageous, and quite simply deceptively ignorant.

The core problem is that people still have a mentality that handsets should be from $49-$199, which means that you're going in with the carrier on your device. Of course most carriers let you bring your own device (if this isn't legally mandated, it nonetheless remains the practice), giving you an actual claim to own the device.

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