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Carriers, Manufacturers Are Strangling Android

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the fate-of-cuckoo-chicks dept.

Cellphones 306

loconet writes "This article in Gizmodo claims that Android's fragmented model is harming it, but Google has the power to save it. The rumored Google Phone could be a ploy to upset the wireless industry, or it could be an expensive niche device. Either way, it would be a bid to take Android back from the companies that seem hell-bent on destroying it. '...once handset manufacturers (and carriers, through handset manufacturers) have built their own version of Android, they've effectively taken it out of the development stream. Updating it is their responsibility, which they have to choose to uphold. Or not! Who cares? The phones are already sold."

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306 comments

What a nightmare. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500724)

You have to hand it to Apple, at least they handle updates pretty well.

Re:What a nightmare. (5, Informative)

Stevecrox (962208) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500836)

I'd like to big-up Nokia at this point, my Nokia 5800 has had 4 firmware updates since I bought it a year ago. Each one has added new features and speed certain things up (Nokia Maps 3.0 is massivily superior to Maps 1.0). In the same time things have gone from Nokia PC Suite, to Nokia Ovi and Nokia Music (Nokia Music was horrific) to now Nokia Ovi 2.0 and Nokia Ovi Player (Musics replacement is actually good).

While carriers have slowed the progress of updates down (O2 took 4/5 months to role out the last one) Nokia has consistantly moved to keeping their phones updated and providing better integration with the PC side and mobile (even down to little things like icons).

The one downside I can see is I used to go through a different Windows mobile every 12-18 months, I'm almost at the end of my current 12 month contract and I can't see the point of changing the phone. Unless I can get double/tripple the battery life, since the current GPS setup drains the battery something chronic (4/5 hours continious GPS Navigation use and the batteries toast).

Re:What a nightmare. (1, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500940)

Having lots of updates is not in any way impressive, it means they didn't do things right the first damn time and rushed it to market.

Re:What a nightmare. (4, Insightful)

Unoti (731964) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501170)

Having lots of updates is not in any way impressive, it means they didn't do things right the first damn time and rushed it to market.

Releasing updates is not always an admission of failure. It's delivering an improved user experience.

Taking your argument to the absurd helps illustrate the fault in your logic: if your statement were always true, and all companies always did the right thing, then no software would be released to the world yet, at all, because we have not yet written and perfected every feature that everyone wants. A ludicrous idea, of course. The idea I'm trying to illustrate is that it is desirable to periodically release software when it is good, and release it again later when it's even better or does even more.

Re:What a nightmare. (0, Flamebait)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501382)

"Improved user experience" is marketingspeak for feature upgrade or bug fix. The parent got modded down, but if I had points, I'd put it right back up. Crippled software sets, suddenly enabled by market pressure, isn't an upgrade.

When apps are truly upgraded, so much the better, but this doesn't follow the computer industry model. And I wouldn't expect it from others.

Re:What a nightmare. (4, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501308)

I have the same phone (developing for it too), and it doesn’t matter if you have a branded carrier-updated model.

Changing the internal ID that controls, which update mod it’s going to pull, is ridiculously easy. There is a small tool, and a huge list of all IDs of all Nokia phones for all carriers!
You change the ID, run Nokia’s own updater, and you’re done! (Just to into the themes menu and back out, for the theme to initialize properly.)

So everybody can have the very latest updates.

As for the GPS. That’s not the worst problem. The worst problem is, that without a data connection, GPS is not working and useless. It just tries to find satellites. According to Nokia, it takes up to 40 minutes to get the first fix, then it’s fast. 40 minutes?? A TomTom does it in under two seconds! Like pretty much every GPS device (including phones) out there. And they don’t want to admit that it’s a serious bug too. Which puts a big dent in the otherwise huge respect that I have for Nokia, because of their strong support for QT, Linux, and open source in general.
On my phone, even 40 minutes do not help. I can be in a place with nothing at all around me. No trees, no buildings, nothing. And yet, after two hours, I don’t get a fix. Unless I enable A-GPS. Then’s working as expected.

I really recommend installing Maps Booster. It’s a software similar to the iPhone’s “fake” GPS, which uses wifi hotspots with a database of ID/location mappings, which even works inside rooms, and adds to the overall quality. The only problem is, that for that you also need a data connection. Because it pulls the IDs from a constantly updated online database. (The same that the iPhone uses, btw.)

All in all, I guess you can’t do without a data flatrate nowadays. Which costs around 20€ here. Too much for the average user.

Re:What a nightmare. (0, Troll)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500840)

Yeah... buy a new phone.

Re:What a nightmare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500882)

Hey! Just why in hell is this a troll? Are you really ignorant enough to think the vendors push maintenance of old product over sales of new product? If you do you're a rube, probably ought to be selling shoes in Minton, Nebraska rather than modding on an alleged tech site.

Re:What a nightmare. (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500984)

Of course they're going to push for replacement. But they're still good enough to maintain the old product, which gives the old product a longer lifespan, therefore another selling point. QED.

Re:What a nightmare. (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501122)

Apple's solution to updates definitely isn't "buy a new phone". I'm happily using the original iPhone (y'know, the $600 one from 2007) and continue to get regular software updates.

I'm sure Apple would prefer for me to buy a new phone, but by ensuring my continued happiness, they've massively increased the chance that I'll stick with them when I decide to upgrade.

Re:What a nightmare. (3, Interesting)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501250)

The other thing you've done is probably continued to pay them in the form of apps or possibly music. In fact, Apple is very interested in keeping you happy since they have alternate revenue streams (in addition to buying a new phone).

Mobile carriers are only interested in getting you to pay them as much per month as possible... Hence disabling most functionality of the phone unless you pay extra "service fees" to access those functions. My own case: Verizon only allows applications in a token way... If I get a new phone, I have to buy the apps that I want all over again if I get them out of their store.

Most other device makers are more interested in getting you to buy the newest toy. Which is why they aren't too keen on keeping them updated, or even working after you've paid for it.

Re:What a nightmare. (0)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501012)

Exactly! I remember about 2 years ago I was at a conference meeting with some conference chairs, and one of them was a Google employee. We were talking about mobile phones and his words at that time was that the Google mobile operating system would crush Apple. I laughed in his face and said, "many have already said that in the past."

What Google does not understand is that the mobile networks are not like Internet networks. The only company, and I did underestimate them to my error, that managed to get control of things was Apple. And while many hate that Apple has such a draconian stance on their Apps store I am almost guessing it is a requirement by the telcos. Otherwise why would Google have such a problem with their OS's. The problem with 3G is that the telco's paid BILLIONS for the space and they want to make that money back. Apple understands this, and did the right thing. Google just DOES NOT GET it...

Re:What a nightmare. (4, Funny)

lordtoran (1063300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501036)

You were talking to a chair thar was a Google employee? I thought they had somewhat stricter recruitment criteria.

Re:What a nightmare. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501050)

You were talking to a chair thar was a Google employee? I thought they had somewhat stricter recruitment criteria.

"I'll bet you thought I was crazy too. Who's laughing now?"
- Steve Ballmer

Re:What a nightmare. (5, Insightful)

kdart (574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501178)

Google does get it. But Google does not want to play by the existing rules. They want to change the rules.

Re:What a nightmare. (1)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501418)

Then they [Google] need to become a carrier with their own cell tower infrastructure if they want to play by their own rules.

Re:What a nightmare. (3, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501448)

Well my Nokia 5800 works with a mobile network just like an Internet network. As does my mobile 3G USB dongle, come to that. No contracts, no strings, with either of them. So your excuse for Apple's locked down phone doesn't really work, and I don't see any problem with Google doing things the way that the vast majority of the mobile market already does things. I'd much rather the mobile networks be like the Internet works in general, and not to end up as being Apple's locked down vision.

Re:What a nightmare. (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501112)

One of the best things Apple did with the iPhone is to ensure that Apple is responsible for distribution of update and that the carriers have no say in when updates are released.

Re:What a nightmare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501290)

Apple's business model is also more prone to success than Android's.

Re:What a nightmare. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501356)

Apple *KNEW* it had a good product. They came in and said we will run this *OUR* way if you do not like that ... well tough we will not launch it.

Many of these companies are so process heavy they wouldnt know what to do with a good idea anyway. It took me 7 phone calls to my service rep to get my home phone switched to my cell. My favorite quote 'I dont think that is possible to do I do not understand it'. Then the meetings I have seen with the carrier reps these dudes are so well disconnected from their customers they have no idea when a good idea falls in their laps. They want to nickle and dime an idea and just say 'take it or leave it'. Then turn around acting all surprised when they overcharged for it and force it on everyone.

There is a reason we all pay 20 cents and up per text message. Its not thru greed or malace. It is just serious malaise and a general lack of caring for the customer.

So yes they will kill the android before it gets out the door. They will cripple the hell out of it. Dont want to erode a possible profit. Then wonder what went wrong.

In other news (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500734)

CmdrTaco has been arrested on suspicion of strangling a baby with his micropenis.

Doesn't matter if users ca upgrade. (1, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500744)

I don't think it's reasonable to complain about the spread of updates yet, I think over time they will tend to smooth out.

Plus, I don't think it matters. Look at all the people will ing to jailbreak iPhones, or to apply custom firmware to Windows Mobile devices. If the carriers don't update, most users will if it's possible - and I think for the most part users will be able to upgrade phones since Android is open. It will just be a more quirky process than the iPhone offers, but in the end people can make a choice they feel comfortable with.

Re:Doesn't matter if users ca upgrade. (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500838)

Look at all the people will ing to jailbreak iPhones

The main reason why people jailbreak is to get decent apps that will never be approved (such as emulators) on their phone. With a lack of a central authority forbidding such things, most people are less likely to root their Android device unless they are geeks.

Such as what again? (1, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500928)

The main reason why people jailbreak is to get decent apps that will never be approved (such as emulators) on their phone.

You were saying? [toucharcade.com]

I think people jailbreak for either (a) more customization, (b) pirating, (c) free tethering. At this point there are very few classes of desirable apps that aren't able to be on the app store.

With a lack of a central authority forbidding such things, most people are less likely to root their Android device unless they are geeks.

Unless they need to do so to install software updates so they can get recent applications.

Re:Such as what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501264)

You can also buy Snes, Nes and gameboy emulators in the offical app market on the android.

Re:Such as what again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501432)

I think he ment emulate a good system like the super nintendo or sega genesis.

Frequently replaced. (1, Insightful)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500750)

Since phones are frequently replaced for various reasons the software upgrade issue seems to be less interesting anyway.

A new model replacing the old with better hardware comes at least every year. And people do drop their phones and a lot of other things happens too.

Re:Frequently replaced. (4, Informative)

James Carnley (789899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500884)

It may be different where you live, but here in the United States we sign two year contracts that come with subsidized phones. That means that the majority of churn on handsets is rated at two years per device.

Two years is a long time. I would not want to be stuck on Android 1.5 for two years when a fairly simple upgrade to 2.1 would unlock a huge new increase in functionality of my existing hardware such as turn by turn navigation and Google Goggles.

I much prefer the European model of unlocked phones, but changing the industry is a whole other topic in itself. I am hoping Google has the ability to change that, but we will see.

Re:Frequently replaced. (1)

ickpoo (454860) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500944)

At least with the G1 the turn by turn directions were added as a download from the applications store. So, the phone is still at 1.6, but the maps application has the turn by turn directions.

Re:Frequently replaced. (2, Informative)

trickyD1ck (1313117) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501058)

Where does this legend about the "European model of unlocked phones" come from? Here in Germany, most people I know get the same 2 year contracts with a phone bundled, like you do. There sure are prepaid phones, contracts without phones, and all kinds of phones without contract on the eBay. But last time I checked, the contract+phone bundle made the most economic sense. Guess it is the same in the USA. Anyways, a contract with or without a phone costs €20-€60, I don't think it is kind of money you should get upset about, much less running news on Slashdot daily about consumers being "raped" by the carriers.

Re:Frequently replaced. (1)

alexandre_ganso (1227152) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501088)

You mean, like paying 800 dollars for a phone which may come for free? Have a look at how many buy free phones in here...

Carriers are a real problem. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500772)

Cell phone carriers are, at least in america, holding back cell phone software. The subsidized-phone business model gives them the oppourtunity to control everything about customer's phone software. Most basic carrier-sold phones are a nightmare to use, filled with ugly, confusing branded interfaces and annoying "stores" that sell overpriced useless games and ringtones. Apple did something right by cutting a tough deal with specific carriers in order to prevent them from branding the phone. Google's "all comers" strategy has opened them to the megalomania of the carriers.

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (4, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500830)

Honest question: How subsidized are "subsidized" phones in the US, really?

Here in Sweden you can get phones locked to an operator too and you can get them with a commitment to stay the course of one year, for example, but looking at the increased monthly cost and/or cost/minutes, it seems they're not subsidized, but it's more like an instalment (hire-purchase) plan.

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (2, Insightful)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500898)

In the US they're also like an installment plan, but you pay the installments whether or not you get a free phone out of the deal. It is a BIG ripoff, and it is the reason why I have a collection of perfectly fine old phones lying around - if I pay the same to keep the old phone or get a new one, why wouldn't I want the new one?

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (1)

horatio (127595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501010)

I have a collection of perfectly fine old phones lying around

If you want to get rid of the phones, these guys will take them for a good cause: http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/ [cellphones...ldiers.com] (Try to ignore the stupid music player, not sure who decided that was a good idea to set the auto-play).

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501034)

Here's the reason: once you're off the contract, you're wasting money, but you don't have the contract holding you down. You can leave at any time.

Someone who is a better negotiator than myself could probably parlay that into some savings. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about the "extra charges we choose to bill you for that aren't taxes" part of my bill. I mean, it's not taxes, and it's not part of the advertised price of the plan, how the hell can they be so brazen.

Yet.. I still pay it. I'm kinda stupid that way.

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500932)

It's as you say, obviously no phone company is going to take a loss, so you're locked in by a contract in some form that allows them to make it back over time. Where I live one of the big boys, Telus, has created a spin off mobile phone company, Koodo, for all the hep young people which advertises no contract, but then they have what they call a "tab", against which 10% of your bill payments go. If you leave them before your tab is paid off, you have to pay the balance. But at least it's not an evil old contract!

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (1)

CxDoo (918501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501124)

Every time I read about mobile phone escapades of our fellow American slashdotters I feel blessed to live in Europe.
Sure, you can go and get a contract for so and so minutes/megabytes/messages per month + your "free" phone but nothing stops you from buying a number for a small sum (7.5 - 15 eur where I live) and paying as you go. Rates are a bit higher but I can generally fit my usage under 10 eur per month.
In comparison to amounts paid monthly in the USA, it is obvious that phones given with those contracts are far from free, or even subsidised.

It depends on what you want and how you use it (1)

pem (1013437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501200)

I have a cell phone (in the US) that I use for emergencies.

It is a "prepaid" plan from Virgin Mobile. It costs $0.18/minute, and to keep the number and keep the minutes, I have to give them $15.00 every 90 days. The phone cost me $35.00.

So, for $5.00 / month (+ 8.25% sales tax, so more like $5.43) I have a phone that currently has hundreds of minutes available on it.

I haven't found a data plan which gives equivalent value yet, though...

Re:It depends on what you want and how you use it (1)

CxDoo (918501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501424)

I have a "postpaid" number with my provider and pay maintenance of 5 eur + what I used per month and as I said I go under 10 eur most of the time. This includes 3g internet access though the rates are a bit steep for heavy traffic.
Granted, I am not a phone maniac but I don't care how much time I spend talking either.

Regarding prepaid, if you go cheap (7.5 eur) you have to add 5 eur every month.
The more expensive option allows you to go for a year without topping up so you could have it for 15 + 10 eur. No 3g internet though.
 

Re:It depends on what you want and how you use it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501450)

Virgin Mobile Prepaid Wireless Broadband:
http://www.virginmobileusa.com/mobile-broadband

Verizon Wireless Prepaid Wireless Broadband:
http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/mobilebroadband/?page=plans

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (1)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501242)

You can get a basic phone for about $100 without a contract, or you can get a $600 phone for $100 with a contract, or you can just pay the full $600 without a contract.

Quite a bit (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501426)

You find that often you can get a phone for $0-$50 that is $300+ if bought retail. For example when my office got my my 8330, the cost online for one was like $300. Since we bought a plan, Verizion sold it to us for about $25. They really do give you the hardware at a price that is a loss to them. However, one thing to note is that quite often their plans aren't any better if you provide your own hardware. They often still require a year contract. So you can debate how much they are really doing for anyone.

However when they do give you a phone, it makes sense they want a contract or early termination fee because otherwise they would take a loss on people who signed up and then canceled right away.

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (2, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500844)

Phone companies have no interest in supplying phones that allow you to use information (over their pipes) as efficiently as possible. The more you are online, the more it costs them in infrastructure. They have have to appear minimally better than their competition.

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (2, Insightful)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501140)


Phone companies have no interest in supplying phones that allow you to use information (over their pipes) as efficiently as possible. The more you are online, the more it costs them in infrastructure. They have have to appear minimally better than their competition.

Traditionally this has been the case, but for carries that don't offer "unlimited" data, there is an interest to encourage you to make the most of data usage. Data is the new voice.

Re:Carriers are a real problem. (1)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501348)

Phone companies have no interest in supplying phones that allow you to use information (over their pipes) as efficiently as possible. The more you are online, the more it costs them in infrastructure. They have have to appear minimally better than their competition.

Traditionally this has been the case, but for carries that don't offer "unlimited" data, there is an interest to encourage you to make the most of data usage. Data is the new voice.

Let me let you in on some inside information. The operators are HORRIFIED at the prospect of mobile network users actually using their unlimited data plans as much as possible. Most operators don't offer unlimited data because they want to be nice to their users, they do it because everyone else offers it too and people want it. So operators go on with offering unlimited data plans despite the fact that in most cases, their networks are NOWHERE NEAR capable of handling it. Right now, every single mobile operator that offers unlimited data over a mobile phone network either already utilizes "hidden" QoS and throttling or is scrambling to implement both as soon as possible.

How is this Different from WinMobile? (4, Insightful)

syntap (242090) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500780)

Windows Mobile, which unlike Android has always ranged from okay to sorry, must be updated by the phone manufacturers unless you luck out and your model gets attention from ROM cookers. Yet it has lived for over ten years... why would the expectation for Android be any different? Perhaps I am being cynical, but this smells like fear-mongering from parties that still think WinMo has a future.

Re:How is this Different from WinMobile? (0, Flamebait)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500814)

It isn't fear mongering, it is "Hey, Android still sucks right now, it didn't solve all the old problems and buy me a pony like I thought it would."

The U.S. carriers all treat their customers like shit, it's too bad that the customers put up with it.

Re:How is this Different from WinMobile? (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501020)

I'm sure that more sophisticated users think it sucks (for some reason or other), but the only thing I find missing is voice dialing over blue tooth. Other than that, I am perfectly happy with my Motorola Droid. Works great, lots of nice apps.

Re:How is this Different from WinMobile? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501094)

I was thinking more about the customer service experience (where the customer is pretty much regarded as a revenue stream that occasionally complains about stuff; the Android operating system hasn't had much impact on that side of things).

Re:How is this Different from WinMobile? (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500826)

How is this different from scrUbuntu, Gnome, Kde, Fedora, etc and etc?

Re:How is this Different from WinMobile? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500990)

WinMo has been around in one form or another longer than Google has actually existed, I think its a bit premature to write it off at this point.

Re:How is this Different from WinMobile? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501422)

Its been around forever and has a negligible user base- its losing to Symbian, Apple, nokia s40, RIM, and half a dozen proprietary OSes. Android will beat it within a year, 2 at most. WinMo is just not an important phone OS. The only reason it ever got anywhere was it was the easiest open SDK OS to program for (just buy visual studio) so it was easy to target. Now its lost that, its dead.

It is different because it is a different era (4, Insightful)

forand (530402) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501084)

The 10 years when WinMo was a major player was characterized by NO consumer choice after the original purchase. Blackberry and Palm were the same way. Now the consumer is beginning to understand the benefits of having an open platform untied to their carrier. So if Android phones get locked down to the same level that WinMo, Palm, and Blackberries where for years then it will have to compete on crutches with the iPhone. Sure there are unlocked phones available but not enough to justify a vibrant marketplace al la iTunes.

Here is my dream phone (3, Interesting)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500822)

1) (Practically)Free VOIP when in WIFI zones instead of using minutes.

2) Internet Browser in WIFI zones.

3) No commitment plan, but maybe minutes bought on a trak phone style buying.

4) Ability to write my own custom aps on the phone.



This is my dream phone because I can use it as a home phone and never have to pay for it. Everything past that is bonus.

Re:Here is my dream phone (1)

mhamel (314503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500946)

* An android phone with SIPDroid [google.com] shoud do the trick for number 1.
* Number 2 is ok also with android.
* No 3 is ok if you buy an used HTC G1 on ebay. They go for an average of 165$ right now.
* 4 is also ok woth android.

Buy an used Android phone.. best bang for the buck!

Re:Here is my dream phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501004)

That should be "a used". Unless you pronounce "used" as "oozed."

Re:Here is my dream phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501060)

You must be in America. This is standard in Europe. You can buy the latest and greatest gadget phone, then pick your service provider for voice and data, even with PAYG. If you don't want to buy the phone, you have to use the American model of bigger monthly fees to cover for the fact you didn't buy the phone.

Re:Here is my dream phone (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501186)

Any PAYG phone with WiFi that isn't the locked down Iphone should do you fine. E.g., my Nokia 5800 I got on PAYG does those things fine (admittedly I've yet to try Skype over WiFi, but I've seen applications that claim to do this).

And not that any PAYG phone full stop satisfy 3 and 4 - they all support "apps" (well, apart from the cheapest dumb phones), usually via Java.

Re:Here is my dream phone (5, Informative)

lamapper (1343009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501266)

1) (Practically)Free VOIP when in WIFI zones instead of using minutes.
2) Internet Browser in WIFI zones.
3) No commitment plan, but maybe minutes bought on a trak phone style buying.
4) Ability to write my own custom aps on the phone.

If you do not want to bite the bullet and purchase the N900 (around $599) you can get a N800, first came out in 2006 for around $200. Remember even with the price of the Nokia N900, if you ditch your $50 per month cellular plan, you will recoup your costs in 1 year. If your cellular plan is more than $50 per month, you will recoup the cost of the phone faster.

The ONLY thing the N800 does NOT have when compared to the N900 is cellular. Based on your list, no cellular, you can do everything you want to do with the Nokia N800. The N800 still has the FM chip like the N900 also. A plus with the Nokia N800 is it has a reversible webcam, you simply rotate it to change from taking a picture of you to a picture of something/someone in front of you.

Most important, ONLY with the Nokia Nxxx (which you have root access to) can you install any Linux app you want. Expect to do some tweaking. But the reality is you have a shot at it. Remember the first Nokia Nxxx, the N770 came out in 2005. At one point there were over 450 apps for the Nokia N800. While I was NOT surprised that the website for apps for the N900 did not list them all, I would be surprised if you could not get them to work on the Nokia N900.

Ideally you want an application to just install on your phone, even Linux apps. Thanks to apt-get and yum, most Linux software applications can be configured to work on pretty much any Linux distro. All it takes is your patience and time. However if you do NOT have root access, you will be limited with what you can configure. You always want access to root with any Linux distro, or do not use it as you will end up frustrated in a blind alley one day. Just not worth wasting your precious time that way. (I use su and sudo, but I must have access to root, just in case, period, end of discussion)

Next years Androids are suppose to come (with the ability to root day 1, or so the rumor goes) from Google. If they follow through with that hope, then those phones will be equivalent (and possibly better than) the Nokia Nxxx. Currently the Android can be rooted, however Google has sent Cease and Desist orders to people who not only root the phone, but include other Google apps on it. In other words, Google does not officially sanction rooting at this time. They tolerate it as long as you do not include other apps, but that is it.

Really? (3, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500824)

I'm not entirely sure what this article is trying to prove. Android has been out for a year. It takes most software companies 6 months to ready a new release, test it, and put it out to market. If anyone (carriers or manufacturers) are interested in keeping their hardware on dated software, that won't be clear until at least June.

And his supposition that handset manufacturers have no incentive to make their already-sold handsets operate well is just stupid. If you get a reputation for not updating your software, people won't want your hardware. And the carriers have even more interest in keeping software up to date.

Really hope this takes off (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500832)

I'm an iPhone user, but I really hope this takes off. There are some interesting features in the Droid and competition is always a good thing. On top of that, separating the phone from the provider is a Win in my book. Yes, it will remove the overt control from the provider, but it will also have the effect of eliminating contract termination fees, and it could also potentially bring about better standards that ALL cell providers would be forced to follow as well as better pricing in the long run if they are no longer subsidizing the phones.

Perhaps fewer updates may help? (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500848)

September 2008: Android 1.0
March 2009: 1.1
May 2009: 1.5
September 2009: 1.6
October 2009: 2.0

Sorry, but by the time a phone maker qualifies the newest version for use on a particuar phone, it's likely there'll be a newer version of Android out...so...why bother? If you're always going to be behind the timjes, might as well just concentrate on your newest offerings, instead of trying to make sure that Android x.x is backwards compatible with your old hardware.

Perhaps a major release with new features only once a year, and bugfixes and efficiency improvments in point upgrades as needed.

Sorry but, too many people have learned that upgrading the OS breaks 3rd party apps, thus I can see why phone makers prefer stability over feature improvements.

Android won't die (4, Insightful)

rovolo (1695142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500854)

The manufactures aren't trying to destroy Android, but the negligence is sure to stunt its growth. As long as Android is free and provides a good tech demo companies will continue to use it to sell the newest version of their phone.

Without a more cohesive foundation it will probably stagnate though. The same thing happened with Linux; 'the year of the linux desktop'. Linux has survived not because of market viability but because technical people liked it. It still doesn't have more than a couple percent of marketshare (in the consumer market.) Android has an advantage in that smartphones are more integrated platforms than desktops, and people expect less expandability, but each smartphone will be a part of the manufacturers brand, rather than the Android brand. On a fragmented market it's much more difficult to deliver expanded functionality in the form of applications to consumers. It will be more like the crappy java games that you'd see on old phones than the market for desktop software.

It's a new concept for phone companies though, and they'll probably start updating the OS once they get used to it. If they don't though, Android will probably see a limited success.

A naive question (5, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500864)

I will admit that I don't understand the standards behind the cell phone industry, but why are cell phones so strongly coupled to the service providers and, well, not open?

If I want a landline, I can go buy any old phone I want, and as long as it speaks the right protocols (which are pretty simple for analog landlines) I can plug it into my wall, and it works.

If I want internet service, I can go buy Ye Olde Acme Cable Modem, plug it into my wall, call up my local ISP, and poof! I have internet.

If I'm out of disk space, I can go get a hard drive from Seagate and stick it into any machine I want to.

In so many other engineering situations, interoperability between one component and another is restricted only as far as it is required to be based on the manufacturer's engineering decisions. (I can't mount a Nikon lens on a Canon camera because they have two different ways of doing autofocus, for instance.)

Why the hell can't cell phones be this way, instead of the current quagmire where they're hopelessly entangled with what the carrier wants? I want a cellular carrier that charges a fair price for service (per byte and per minute, or whatever), and then lets me use whatever device I want to use that service. If I can stick a radio into a TI-89 and make it speak CDMA, let me make phone calls with it.

Re:A naive question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500876)

Because people are idiots, and will buy shiny things based on advertising and being told what they want, rather than on thinking about what's in their best long term interest.

Re:A naive question (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500964)

It's not that people are idiots, its that each carrier more or less has their own vertical technology that only works with certain processors and towers. When Sprint bought Nextel they had a very difficult time merging their Nextel phones and towers with their sprint network and phones. Phones that operate on both networks have to work with both types of signal. What we have here is a failure to standardize on one signal, and one type of signal processor.

The Google phone is unlikely to be able to jump that hurdle without producing a phone that has 3 signal processors, one for Sprint, one for AT&T/T-Mobile, and one for Verizon. It will then have to turn only one on at a time in order to avoid draining battery life 3 times as fast. I have no idea how big the device would have to be to accomodate all 3 networks, but I'm imagining that it would need 3 chips to go where 1 chip does presently.

Re:A naive question (1)

fluch (126140) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501086)

Actually I belive that the explanation "because people are idiots" is right. I have have seen myself what happens if there are rules around which prevent mobile carries to take customers hostages to their contracts for 18 or 24 months: you get the phones cheap but incredible bad contracts. For example in Finland this was forbiden for long time, with the outcome that real competition existsed and that sofisticated equipment had the price it deserved (why should a sofisticated mobile device cost 1 euro/pound/dolar?!). It turned out that this way you got much much cheaper contracts with much more freedom than in countries which did not have this rules! Why is there no company in the UK which gives you a contract which does cost 1 pound per month subscription fee and where you pay 5 pennies/minute of phone call to any (!) network in the UK (and where the length of the phone call is measured in seconds from the very beginning on) and where a text does cost 5 pennies into any network?!?

Re:A naive question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501180)

You win the "you just made my head hurt" award. Please run as hard as you can into the nearest wall head first.

Re:A naive question (2, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500938)

Why the hell can't cell phones be this way, instead of the current quagmire where they're hopelessly entangled with what the carrier wants?

Because that's how the carriers [wikipedia.org] like it.

Re:A naive question (4, Informative)

david.given (6740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501162)

Why the hell can't cell phones be this way, instead of the current quagmire where they're hopelessly entangled with what the carrier wants? I want a cellular carrier that charges a fair price for service (per byte and per minute, or whatever), and then lets me use whatever device I want to use that service. If I can stick a radio into a TI-89 and make it speak CDMA, let me make phone calls with it.

Because you're in America, the land of the fee.

More seriously, CDMA is a large part of the problem. Most CDMA phones aren't designed to work with multiple carriers. The phone ID is hard-coded at build time and tied to a particular carrier. This means that it's really hard to change them to another carrier.

GSM phones work differently. The network ID, the bit that is tied to a particular carrier, is actually housed on a smartcard that plugs into the phone. You can remove the smartcard and insert it into another phone, and presto, that phone adopts the smartcard's ID and logs on to the appropriate carrier.

While you still get subsidised phones with GSM that are locked to one particular carrier, and will refuse to work with a different SIM, the fact that this is possible and easy has encouraged a whole industry of unlocked phones and SIMs. You can go into any supermarket and buy a SIM in a box [tesco.com] (that one is $7 and contains $15 worth of credit). If you need a phone you can either buy a cheap SIM-less phone [tesco.com] (that one costs $10!), but they'll work in any unlocked GSM phone. The end result is that I, living in the UK, can spend about $30 a year on mobile phone service. That includes data.

(If you hunt around you can actually find SIM-only options for GSM phones in America, but of course this requires you to live in a GSM area; plus, the terms are usually terrible with unpleasant features like evaporating credit if you don't use it.)

There is apparently a standard for a similar CDMA smartcard system, but it's now too late and nobody cares.

Re:A naive question (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501218)

If I can stick a radio into a TI-89 and make it speak CDMA, let me make phone calls with it.

You know most phones have a calculator app built in already, right?

Re:A naive question (1)

kdart (574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501376)

Because, unlike land-line phones, a cellular phone is a complex device that is an integral part of the system. A buggy or hacked radio software can potentially disrupt service to many other paying customers. It needs to be tightly controlled to assure network availability for everyone. Therefore every phone needs to undergo an expensive battery of tests and certification.

Therefore these phones are actully quite expensive. In order to get the price down to a level to attract the most customers they have to be subsidized. Therefore, you have to sign a contract promising to stick with them for some amount of time to cover that cost.

But you can also pay full price for a phone and get a monthly service plan from most carriers. Many people overlook this.

You can also, in fact, buy a GSM or CDMA modem (only) and attach it to a PC (or TI-89) by serial or USB, add some custom software, and make a smart phone out of it. It won't be very compact, however. Getting all that into one hand-held device is not so easy either.

Modern smart phones, like the G1, actually have two CPUs in them, one for the apps and interface and one for the radio interface. The radio CPU and memory are isolated by hardware.

What is the point? (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500868)

Wasn't the point of android to give the carriers and users the freedom to have the phone they wanted, instead of having a single company push a phone down their throats? What is the difference between a google pjhone, and apple phone, or a RIM phone? The promise of an android phone is that one might have a application based smart phone that could be used between providers. That one might have a phone made for end users, with apps made for end users.

Even with fragmentation, it should be possible to write compatible apps for most phones. If, otoh, google makes a reference phone, then Apps are going to be for this phone, and no progress will be made.

The issue still seems to be carriers, at least in the US, wanting strict control over features. T-mobile seems to be the only US carrier that will allow tethering. Sprint seems to have said it will never happen, and ATT and Verizon both will do so only with additional fees. This seems to imply that additioanl features one might have with an android phone might only happen with additional fees.

Worst has to be Samsung (1)

spyfrog (552673) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500894)

The worst handling has to be the way Samsung has treated us who bought the Galaxy.
No update to either 1.6 or 2.0 but the lower end models, like the "Spica" (which began its life as Galaxy Lite) will probably be updated.

They could at least release the source code needed for someone to compile Android as a third party software but they refuse. Really, really bad. My last Samsung phone, you can be sure of that. The phone stopped working after 3 weeks also - I am still not sure if it can be repaired.

Re:Worst has to be Samsung (1)

WGFCrafty (1062506) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501368)

My brother has one of Samsung's terrible touch screen phones. It's one of the older ones (not android), and it actually supports streaming advertisements! (At least some things on the phone do)

Thanks to Cyano ... (1)

garry_g (106621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500914)

for keeping Android up to date ... seeing that it had been rumored that anything beyond 1.5 might not be available due to (flash) memory size, we're up to a partial 2.0 release, with many of the 2.0 fixes and enhancements already available ... at least for the geeks that have managed (or dared) to root their device ... otherwise, I don't know how long it would take to see anything newer than 1.6, if any at all ...

Re:Thanks to Cyano ... (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501154)

Agreed. Big thanks to Cyanogen, Anubis, Jesus Freak, and all the other guys over at XDA. My phone wouldn't be worth squat without nandroid, recovery boot, tether, apps2sd, arm, root, etc

Hard to believe (3, Insightful)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500966)

It's hard to believe that Google chose to go with what essentially is the open-source version of the broken WinMo model in a post-iPhone world. They got this thing all backwards.

Perhaps they should have came out with Nexus One from the outset and then set up some kind of a reference design for all other manufacturers, instead of letting various handset manufacturers to cook up their own custom distributions. That way you could have one unified experience for the developers to follow. It's starting to look like Linux on the desktop -- something that sounds amazing on paper but doesn't quite work in the real world when you put it in front of non-geeks.

Re:Hard to believe (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501198)

What on earth is a "post-iPhone world"? Seriously - the mobile phone market, let alone the rest of the world, doesn't revolve around the Iphone.

Re:Hard to believe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501330)

iPhone introduction put the smartphone front and center into the mainstream and turned a business device into a consumer one. Prior to the iPhone's introduction smartphones were used by enterprise and a tiny group of geeks. Soon as the App Store was introduced it spawned a trend of creating similar ecosystems for every platform under the sun. Nokia, RIM, Palm, Microsoft, Google - all of them followed up with their own responses to capitalize on the trend.

For better or worse, iPhone completely changed the mobile industry. App Stores, true usability, gaming that wasn't Snake [rbytes.net], carrier-independent OS updates, etc

Phone providers got what they wanted from Android (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501354)

They got what they wanted: a low or no cost OS that works, that they can customize, that isn't Windows Mobile, Palm, or some other legacy anchor most consumers know already they don't want. They do not want or need an upgradable phone O.S. They would much prefer that people renew their phones every two or three years and so stay obligated on their contracts than that they upgrade their phone O.S. That they have to buy all their ringtones and apps again is just bonus.

The NexusOne isn't for the phone providers. It's for the phone buyer who would rather pay for the phone up front and not get contractually committed to a wireless company (all of whom are notorious for milking their contractually obligated customers untily they're dry). It's for the hardware buyer who wants to stay in control of his hardware.

Cry me a river. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30500970)

The providers have you bent over a barrel. If you don't like it, take a stand; otherwise, shut. the. fuck. up. I'm tired of hearing all you whiny bitches complain about all this smart phone nonsense. iPhone this. Android that. You're all a bunch of punk ass bitches, and you'll continue to take it in the ass because you couldn't deal with the absolute travesty of living without your precious for more than 10 minutes.

And here is why people love the iPhone ... (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30500986)

Apple maintains total control over it, sticks to their guns, and the product isn't bad.

Google gives the carriers complete control, and it turns to shit.

This isn't a new pattern, this is the way its been all along and is one of the reasons the iPhone is doing well.

You wouldn't get email on your phone with out an extra $10/month charge from AT&T if it was in their control. Maps would be the same way. Data would be $0.10/kb or packet, whichever amounts to the largest possible bill.

Apple and the iPhone didn't sell so well just because of the hardware or software specifically. Apple's total control over the system is actually a blessing, contrary to what most seem to think.

Re:And here is why people love the iPhone ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501120)

Apple and the iPhone didn't sell so well just because of the hardware or software specifically. Apple's total control over the system is actually a blessing, contrary to what most seem to think.

People mostly have issues with the shit that apple(or at&t) refuse to allow on the iPhone. Or the fact that they have a seemingly random app approval process. The fact that apple keeps control of the operating system (aside from what I pointed out) and the hardware(aside from what NY times reported about the radio interface) no one is complaining.

As for the whole "it's because they control it all that people are buying it" is bullshit. People bought the iPhone for the stupid apple logo, and they keep doing so cause all their buddies did. The phone isn't millions of miles ahead of the Android phones as far as I'm concerned. It sure does have an extra polish but it's not completely destroying the competition. In fact, I feel that the major part of what people find wrong about Android are things they have gotten used to on the iPhone. Things like the interface they had to learn and now feel like it's natural. It's not natural, people learned it overtime.

Re:And here is why people love the iPhone ... (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501158)

Apple maintains total control over it, sticks to their guns, and the product isn't bad. Google gives the carriers complete control, and it turns to shit.

Wouldn't you rather YOU were in control of your own phone?
That's what the Nexus One is intended to bring about, it seems.

Re:And here is why people love the iPhone ... (2, Interesting)

Renderer of Evil (604742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501268)

Wouldn't you rather YOU were in control of your own phone?
That's what the Nexus One is intended to bring about, it seems.

I personally wouldn't because I don't have the time nor the energy to waste on customizing or hacking the phone to work as I see fit. There are actual professionals who do these kinds of things and I'd like to defer the user-experience part to them.

On a list of things in my life I'd like to control, mobile phone is probably the last thing.

It's always a plus when you're using an app or a game on your iPhone and if someone asks you can tell them to go and download it from iTunes. I don't have to worry about prefacing my suggestions with "Check compatibility with OS version x or suggested device list on developer website." Everyone is on the same page.

No one knows what's the true purpose of Nexus One at this given moment.

Re:And here is why people love the iPhone ... (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501398)

My grandparents say all the same things about their computer.
;D

The RDF strikes again (3, Interesting)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501210)

Except Apple have a few per cent market share - so actually, by your logic, people prefer more open solutions.

Believe it or not, there's more (far more) to the mobile phone market than Apple and Google. Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, RIM. But you wouldn't know it from reading Slashdot.

"Strangling" Android? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501032)

How about:

Journalists, Bloggers Use Overwrought, Hysterical Headlines

From the stop-taking-yourselves-so-fracking-seriously dept.

The linked article basically talks about how different phones are using different versions of the Android OS.

OH NOES. You mean they aren't all running identical versions?! It's being strangled! It's strangulation, I say! Woe unto those who have slightly different versions of software on their phone, for truly they shall be cursed from on high!

Seriously people. Take a deep breath and calm down.

Why should they care? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30501100)

All the carriers care about is getting people to use air time.. anything else is an expense the cuts into their profits. .

The Android OS is doing fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30501390)

Sure there are a few different versions, but saying they are strangling it is like saying Redhat or Ubuntu are strangling Linux by offering differences/choice, etc. The Nexus One is simply a phone that Google will be sure to keep rather "Vanilla" -- and it looks like you can run that OS on other smart phones already (You can run the Nexus One OS on Droid already: http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-news/10006-android-os-2-1-available-droid-use-your-own-risk.html)

To check out more Nexus One stuff, check out http://www.nexusoneforum.net

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