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T-Mobile Bans Others' Apps On Their Phones

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the get-less dept.

Communications 349

cshamis writes "T-Mobile has recently changed their policies and now tell their customers with appropriate data plans and with Java-Micro-App-capable T-Mobile phones: no third-party network applications. You can, of course, still use their incredibly clunky and crippled built-in WAP browsers, but GoogleMaps and OperaMini are left high and dry. Would anyone care to speculate if this move is likely to retain or repel customers?"

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They won't care (3, Insightful)

Buran (150348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161150)

They'll just see the flashy commercials and cheap phones and cheap prices and they'll snap up what they're force-fed without realizing they can do better. Face it. People (in general) are stupid in the USA.

Re:They won't care (3, Interesting)

arodland (127775) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161216)

Agreed. I was looking at an industry mag recently, and they printed a poll of cell phone users concerning churn. Basically the questions asked were: Who is your provider, are you considering leaving them in the next few months, and who are you thinking about moving to? Do you know who had the lowest "considering leaving" numbers and the highest "considering moving to" numbers? Verizon. Apparently the average Joes really like their crippled phones and their single-source philosophy.

Re:They won't care (4, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161314)

Yeah, pretty much. I don't really care that I can't run the latest gee-whiz app on my phone, and have all the potential security issues and all that crap. I have one app installed: Tetris. I stick with Verizon because I've had very good luck with their coverage over the years. That is, after all, the main point of a cell phone: it can make and receive calls wherever you go.

Then which indie handheld? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161390)

I have one app installed: Tetris.
Does it have the infinite spin [ytmnd.com] and T-spin triple [ytmnd.com] maneuvers?

That is, after all, the main point of a cell phone: it can make and receive calls wherever you go.
So what handheld device sold in the United States is intended for running handheld video games developed by independents?

Re:They won't care (5, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161430)

I'm a T-Mobile customer, but many of my friends and family use Verizon because they have the most complete network and the best customer service.

While I am a geek and like my phone to do tricks, most people just want to talk and text message. That doesn't make them idiots.

Re:They won't care (4, Interesting)

tomz16 (992375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161814)

To the parent, there's a reason for Verizon's numbers looking so good...

I hate the crippled nature of verizon phones as much as the next guy, but simply can't look past the fact that my phone is fundamentally there to place and receive calls reliably. No other network I have tried (and I HAVE personally tried all of the other ones) even comes close to Verizon's coverage in the Northeast. And it's not just average joe blow... Easily 95%+ of PhD's and PhD students I know have verizon service...

Re:They won't care (2, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161236)

Not at first, but when their contract is up, the "stupid people" will just change to the next most appealing provider (at the time) that offers a flashy phone.

Re:They won't care (1)

kelnos (564113) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161800)

And what's wrong with that, really? I use my phone for two things: making and receiving calls, and (reluctantly) text messaging. If another carrier is going to offer me a better price to do exactly what I want to do (and likely give me a free shiny new phone), why shouldn't I switch? I don't care about my phone's ability to run other applications, phone-company-"blessed" or otherwise.

Re:They won't care (0, Troll)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161426)

Face it. People (in general) are stupid in the USA.

Right, because other nations have had more success with their master race eugenics. Fuck off, asshole.

Re:They won't care (0, Troll)

kahrytan (913147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161542)

They'll just see the flashy commercials and cheap phones and cheap prices and they'll snap up what they're force-fed without realizing they can do better. Face it. People (in general) are stupid in the USA.

And you are just not figuring out people are generally stupid? People barely know how to use their Plasma TVs or DVD players. I'll bet allot of people just know how to turn on and off their plasma sets. Another exampple is Windows, it sells so big because people are stupid. It is the intelligent ones who use Linux

T-mobile acting sys-admin (2, Interesting)

Reverse Gear (891207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161152)

Seems T-Mobile might is trying to act the evil (/good depends on point of view) sys-admin here.

I guess some people will like that, and it will probably increase security for the phone, third party network applications would include all kinds of malware if I understand it correctly.

Anyhow the problem with "sys-admins" is that if they start bothering the boss because he can not play whatever little game used to play and things like this they don't last for long in the job.
Only problem is that costumers are not employees here, in that sense they are all bosses so of course T-mobile is also going to loose some costumers on this.

I don't think it will be that big a percent of costumers they loose, I personally don't use my phone for anything than talking and those pesky SMS-messages. I don't think the use of WAP is all that widespread yet, so the earlier the better to try and implement a strategy like this, before people begin getting to happy with different third party apps. Perhaps this is going to count in the positive direction for T-mobile in the long run when malware gets more and more widespread on phones, it will make T-mobile different from other network providers which might be a good thing (at least outside Germany where they have the advantage of being the biggest player).

Re:T-mobile acting sys-admin (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161650)

When will these morons learn. Open platforms would bring them more money in the long run. The PC industry is a prime example. Imagine if the PC were still as proprietary as Apple's Macs used to be. We'd all be living in the Stone Age still.

That said, T-Mobile has never been at the top of anyone list. They have a long history of being stupid and even a name change didn't fool most people with an IQ above a door nail.

Re:T-mobile acting sys-admin (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161886)

funny how low this one scored for insulting macs ;-)

Re:T-mobile acting sys-admin (5, Informative)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161848)

This looks a lot like blogspam. The only form of "proof" is just a link to some guy's blog. No official T-Mobile link to the policy. Not even a supposed quote from a customer service rep on the phone. And I just tried and had no problems using OperaMobile and five other third-party apps on my phone (M600i) with T-Mobile service.

The Slashdot posting should be rescinded. It's not accurate, not backed up by any proof, and appears to be just a ploy to get page views.

Great Error Message (0, Offtopic)

Zaurus (674150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161166)

"Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

So often appropriate. Tell me, is there a guide for creating these sorts of profound error messages?

I suppose, "Sorry, only Slashdot-approved comments" would have been an even more appropriate error message for this article...

Re:Great Error Message (0, Offtopic)

Zaurus (674150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161234)

Here, let me reverse my comment and see if it still gets modded "offtopic":
I suppose, "Sorry, only Slashdot-approved comments" would have been an even more appropriate error message for this article...

The standard error message here is so often appropriate. Tell me, is there a guide for creating these sorts of profound error messages?

e.g. "Nothing for you to see here. Please move along."

Time to switch (5, Funny)

moria (829831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161190)

Now it's the time switch to Cingular, and get and iPhone, to continue using my 3rd party applications. oh wait...

Re:Time to switch (1)

JimXugle (921609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161206)

I was considering switching to Tmobile from Cingular... and this repels me more than Cingular's Shitty phones.

Re:Time to switch (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161552)

And how! I'll just keep using my crappy cingular RAZR (lame frickin' GUI, and a whopping 5mb of user space in a pretty clamshell, whoo hooo, at least I can run gmail/goomap and miniOpera 3) until I can get a iPhone. Also, hacking into someone's voicemail box on T-mobile is not only a pain in the ass, it's expensive as their 866message number is a toll call for me. HA! Thanks for the warning about T-Mobile though, I can safely avoid them like the plague.

T-Mobile you are teh suck!

Seems a bit backwards. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161198)

Isn't that like having your ISP tell you what you can run on your computer?

Re:Seems a bit backwards. (2, Insightful)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161306)

What makes you think that won't be the case eventually?

Re:Seems a bit backwards. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161436)

Well, when some ISP requires the use of special dial-in software, and that software runs only on Windows, that's effectively restricting what users can run on their computers. Not by order, but non-Windows users will just not be able to connect.

I wanna run botware! (0)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161448)

ISPs (or phone companies) have ligitimate reasons to be concerned about what you run.

A misbehaving application can cause a computer to cause endless crap on a network and similarly a misbehaving application on a mobile phone can cause a lot of problems on a phone network. However, a misbehaving phone can be far more damaging than a misbehaving network device.

Re:I wanna run botware! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161616)

Crap. The most a mis-behaving java app can do is sending or receiving data without stopping. The only winner here is the network charging for every byte. It's not like you can mount a DoS attack from a terminal connected through a 9.6 Kbit link.

The real reason is the telco locking users into their own services. Nothing new...

Re:I wanna run botware! (4, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161724)

SPs (or phone companies) have ligitimate reasons to be concerned about what you run.

No; they have illegitimate reasons. We should have an inalienable right to communicate as we wish, by whatever means we wish. Corporate control of our communication is a guaranteed disaster for everyone but the owners of the corporation.

In particular, the main design goal of the Internet was to end the traditional stranglehold of equipment suppliers and comm companies over communication. Look up the early docs of the ARPAnet; its primary design goal was to make it possible for any piece of equipment from any vendor to communicate with any other piece of equipment from any other vendor. The vendors had always blocked such universal communication, and the US's Dept of Defense was fed up with it. The companies that supply the equipment still put any roadblocks they can in the way of communicating with their competitors' equipment. The phone companies are especially good at this, at least here in the US.

It's true that this is very easy to understand why the companies would be concerned with what we run on our machines. But this concern is not in any reasonable sense legitimate. It's the worst possible way you could run a comm system. We should continue to fight it any way we can.

The only legitimate restrictions should be that malformed packets may be dropped, and "bandwidth hogs" may be throttled to a reasonable speed limit (i.e., whatever speed they've paid for). But note that such restrictions have little if anything to do with what software you or I may be running. Or with the content of our data packets, for that matter.

It will repel 0.001% of them... (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161208)

... all of whom will be cottage-industry entrepreneurs whose business plans called for them to get a 10% share of the market for third-party applications running on T-Mobile phones.

Well crap (1, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161218)

I was really thinking of going with T-Mobile because the are supposed to have the best customer support. Oh well they are off my list now.
Sprint has been pretty good for me I guess I will probably stay with them.

Re:Well crap (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161260)

Sprint does the same thing and you need to pay more to use your own phone to cover the cost of not using sprints own apps.

Re:Well crap (2, Informative)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161446)

Sprint does the same thing and you need to pay more to use your own phone to cover the cost of not using sprints own apps.

Strange. Sprint never charged me a red cent more for downloading and using Google Maps. I do have an unlimited "Sprint PCS vision" plan, though. If you don't have this, you'll pay a penny a kB no matter who's content you use.

Re:Well crap (1)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161654)

I agree with Radon, did you just make that up? I've had a Sprint Treo for years and have had no trouble running anything I want with out asking Sprints permission.

Re:Well crap (2, Interesting)

pandaba (38513) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161720)

Not true at all. Not only does Sprint not charge more, but they have a completely open policy towards 3rd party apps. The only thing they'll do is nag you when installing a new app with a warning that this might be dangerous. Other than that, there isn't any impediment.

And there's no attempt to lock down bluetooth. They tried locking it with one of their first BT-capable phones but then they did something very surprising for a cell phone company: they listened to customer complaints and offered a firmware update to unlock it and haven't locked it on any of the current models, as far as I know.

They're pretty flexible with data plans. Since my unlimited data is for a phone, not for one of their wireless cards, I'm not supposed to use it extensively with a computer. But after the DSL went out for three days, I used the 3G phone as a replacement connection and had it connected for almost the entire 3 days. No complaints from them and no extra charges.

So I'm surprised they're not a more popular company with the geek crowd. As far as I can see, they're the least restrictive of any of the major American carriers.

And now that I've said something nice about a cell phone company, they'll probably implement some terrible policy tomorrow.

Re:Well crap (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161444)

I'm posting AC because I'm pretty sure my job officially requires me to "support our partners." Basically, I work in a tech support field where I deal with reps from pretty much all carriers in North America.

I can't vouch for all areas, but at least in terms of tech support for what I work with, T-Mobile is undeniably awful. They neglect basic steps that a first-day-on-the-job trainee at my workplace would know off by heart, routinely plunk customers into our call queues (which have zero hold time) without staying on the line to tell us what the issue is or what they've done, and sometimes they don't even tell the customer they're transferring to us - so the customer just gets put on hold, and when someone picks up again, he doesn't know what just happened or why he's talking to someone else.

They have a terrible lack of knowledge of their own systems, and zero knowledge of ours, when their jobs are meant to require full knowledge of both. My company is supposed to be offering the next tier of support for their customers, but it's gotten to where we are basic T-Mobile support, along with upper-tier support for all other carriers.

This policy of blocking things isn't new to them either. For instance, T-Mobile arbitrarily ruled that you cannot set up a Hotmail/MSN/Windows Live Mail email account on their devices (smartphones and BlackBerries and the like) that support it. Why? Who knows. My best guess is that it is because T-Mobile and AOL are owned by the same parent company and they are trying to make it inconvenient to use other email services, but I have no idea.

Best technical support is by far offered by one of the Canadian carriers, Rogers. They have awful customer service and billing policies though. But they sure as hell know how to fix anything.

Re:Well crap (1)

toadlife (301863) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161738)

I've been a T-Mobile customer for five years and their customer service is decent IMO. It certainly isn't what I would call great (some of them are a bit "dumb" and we've had a couple of instances where they didn't seem to know enough about their own products), but this is not far from the experience I've had with any other company.

As for not being able to set up other email accounts, on my Blackberry I can set up any email account that has pop/Imap access with no trouble, and Google maps and opera mini work great.

And from RTFA, apparently this software restriction policy does not apply to "smartphones", like the Blackberry and Windows mobile phones, only the cheaper "feature phones".

The main reason I've stuck with Tmobile for so long is that their prices are lower than any other carrier. My wife and I have actively looked for a better deal every time our contract comes up, but so far no carrier we've ever looked into had ever been able to touch tmobiles prices.

Re:Well crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161786)

Yup, it's only the Microsoft-based email accounts that they block, as I said. Whether or not you can set up other POP/IMAP email accounts has no real bearing on that fact.

Re:Well crap (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161754)

TFA explains that this feature lockdown only applies to new T-Mobile phones with new firmware.

Get your phone somewhere else & you'll have no issues.

Trying To Win Over Apple iPhone Fans? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161222)

The unveiling of the Apple iPhone showed that Apple fans crave a phone that doesn't allow third parties to run on the hardware...


Or is it once again "I only like it if Apple does it"?

Re:Trying To Win Over Apple iPhone Fans? (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161794)

If the T-Mobile apps are as good as the iPhone apps, I don't think many people would care enough to want to try and hack it.

But I seriously doubt it.

Repel, obviously... (5, Funny)

core_dump_0 (317484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161228)

1. Piss off your customers
2. Lose them to competitors
3. ?
4. Profit!

Re:Repel, obviously... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161386)

Close.... more like: 1)Piss off those customers that make full use of their data plan, so actually end up costing the company which severely oversold their services. 2)Lose them to competitors 3)Have lower costs 4)Profit!

Re:Repel, obviously... (1)

Joyce Hatto (1067104) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161428)

1. Piss off your customers
2. Lose them to competitors
3. Sell CDs of your wife playing piano
4. Profit!

Re:Repel, obviously... (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161810)

Hidden in this is the assumption that the competitors treat their customers better...

It's more like this:

  1. Piss off your customers
  2. Retain them because the competition is equally bad or worse and because you made them sign 2-year deals that they didn't want
  3. Reduce difficult and time-consuming support costs that can't be handled by Raju in India reading a script
  4. Profit

Screw them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161230)

I'll keep my Cingular Blackberry with my Google Maps and a couple home built Java Apps and T-Mobile can screw off.

Likely to attract or repel customers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161240)

Gee, that is a tough question. I'll take a wild guess and say that it'll repel customers unless they're (1) unaware or (2) don't know how to use 3rd-party apps.

I was about to a switch from Sprint to T-Mobile this week, but will now go with a different carrier (unless the other carrier adopts a similar policy).

I suspect T-Mobile is worried that people will start using Skype on their network.

Skype already works (4, Funny)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161500)

I have Skype on my T-Mobile dash.

It works OK on an EDGE data connection but the call has pretty high latency (feels like a satelite connection). Works like a charm on Wifi though - it's just really confusing having a phone application running on your phone.

In Other Words (1)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161242)

Users Hack their T-Mobile Phones

(Magic marker sold separately!)

Infringements on our liberties? (3, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161258)

Testing some T-Mobile phones recently, I once again ran into T-Mobile's annoying policy of banning third-party applications from accessing the Internet on their phones. Like so many infringements on our liberties, this started stealthily with a few devices but now covers their entire product line.

Geez... has the author considered calling them up trying to get out of his contract or if he doesn't have one, to simply cancel and move to another carrier?

What's that? T-Mobile's data plan costs less? Sounds to me like one is gettign what one paid for.

Infringements on our liberties. Puh-leez.... Yeah, I rate this right up their with warrantless wiretapping by the government.

Re:Infringements on our liberties? (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161300)

Well to some degree it is. The whole idea that a service contract can be modified by one party at any time, without consent of the other party, is a little rediculous sounding (to myself, who has no idea about contract law really).

I do agree with you in that the author's tone was a little melodramatic.

Re:Infringements on our liberties? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161514)

If you are polite and persistent, you can usually get out of a term contract if some significant underlying functionality changes during the term.

Re:Infringements on our liberties? (2, Informative)

Tintivilus (88810) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161510)

What's that? T-Mobile's data plan costs less?
Except it doesn't. I just switched from T-Mo to Cingular solely based on their data plans, so the pros and cons are pretty fresh in my memory. T-Mo is $29.99 monthly for GPRS/EDGE internet *AND* Wi-Fi (they're an inseperable bundle now), where Cingular is $19.99 for GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSDPA internet. T-Mo's $5.99 T-MobileWeb or whatever is proxied crap; it doesn't even support HTTPS, so no online finance. Cingular's cheapo ($19.99) service comes with a Thou Shalt Not Tether clause that T-Mo omits from their $29.99 plan, but it's no worry for feature-phone data service.

Re:Infringements on our liberties? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161670)

It's been a while since I looked, but isn't Cingular's $19.95 plan capped at some max number of bits/month versus T-Mobile's $29.95 being uncapped?

Their Sidekick has always done this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161268)

The TMobile Sidekick (Hiptop) has always been like this...in fact they will ban you from their support bboard for even mentioning the existence of third-party apps. I think that TMobile finds the "security" (i.e. revenue protection) of the closed Hiptop platform a very attractive feature.

So long, T-Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161272)

They're about to lose me; My contract expires in a few months, and I deserve a better phone without these damn restrictions. Screw you, T-Mobile.

doesn't matter (2, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161280)

The people who know better can fix their phones (most of you probably unlocked your phone already, or bought it unlocked from a third party). The people who don't, don't care anyway.

misleading headling (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161298)

I suppose it's not too surprising, but the headline is misleading. There is no mention of blocking 3rd party applications altogether, just those that need to access the network. I don't believe they are the first carrier to do this.

Re:misleading headling (0, Flamebait)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161434)

There is no mention of blocking 3rd party applications altogether, just those that need to access the network.
Then how do you download apps to your phone other than through the network? Do network operators still require proprietary PC-phone data cables that cost 50 USD extra?

Re:misleading headling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161516)

Bluetooth... and Moto phones at least use a standard USB cable.

maybe their network/OS sucks like iPhone/Cingular (4, Insightful)

straponego (521991) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161310)

Maybe a single buggy application on their phones can take down their entire West Coast network, like the CEOs of Apple and Cingular claim of their combination. Hey, also, since Mr. Jobs claims that iPhone is OS X, and any third party applications will crash iPhone, is it true that any third party apps will crash OS X?

I mean, the only alternative is that they are lying, greedy scumbags, and I wouldn't want to think that about anybody.

And maybe that's just the nature of mobile comms (1)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161492)

Maybe a single buggy application on their phones can take down their entire West Coast network,

Speaking as someone who used to do QA for mobile radio networks: yes, it is entirely possible that a single rogue application (running on thousands of handsets) can take out your data network. Bandwidth is not infinite, as those who've tried making a call or sending a text message at 12:01am on 1 January in the middle of a park with 100,000+ people in it can tell you.

My reaction, from the Engineering Dept "we clear up the mess" school of thought, was yes, they probably will upset a tiny number of customers doing this. And they really won't care at all, because one rogue app taking out their entire network for four hours while the on-call guys work out what caused the spike in traffic will upset a much greater fraction of their customers.

They will probably also kick people who unlock hardware and violate this rule summarily and/or sue someone who violates it and does serious damage, sooner or later, and frankly I won't have any sympathy for those people when it happens. As long as they're up-front about it, you're welcome to use another service instead, and use the non-standard apps in exchange for risking a loss of connectivity now and then.

Don't get t-mobile branded phones (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161322)

One of the reason I'm on T-mobile is because I can use my own unlocked GSM phone on their network. As long as that is still true, I really don't care. I don't even think I've ever owned a T-mobile branded phone (all my phones have been unlocked gsm phones I picked up when I was in Europe).

Of course, this will hurt t-mobile. If I was Cingular, I would heavily advertise this.

What in North America? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161456)

One of the reason I'm on T-mobile is because I can use my own unlocked GSM phone on their network. As long as that is still true, I really don't care. I don't even think I've ever owned a T-mobile branded phone (all my phones have been unlocked gsm phones I picked up when I was in Europe).
What should people in North America who never get the chance to travel to Europe do? Do the GSM phone manufacturers sell unlocked phones directly to residential end users in North America through mail order?

Re:What in North America? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161530)

Try these:

http://www.importgsm.com/home.php [importgsm.com] and http://www.ebay.com/ [ebay.com] (search for 'unlocked gsm' or whatever phone you're looking for.)

Buy the cheapest phone available from cingular or T-mobile, then transfer the SIM card to your new unlocked phone. Done.

Re:What in North America? (1)

tmarthal (998456) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161572)

Its called the internets. Places like newegg and tigerdirect sell unlocked GSM phones (as well as a host of other non-recommended sites). I bought an L7 SLVR from newegg a few months ago and it has been awesome. I had to look online how to configure my picture message server to send/receive picture messages and get online, which I would assume that you have to do anytime you get an unlocked/unconfigured phone. Other than the initial configuration, it's been flawless.

Re:What in North America? (2, Informative)

jslater25 (1005503) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161588)

I bought my GSM phone (Motorola v620) from eBay, then flashed and flexed it to my liking. I even modded it so my name appears on the outside LCD.

So many different companies offer unlocking, you shouldn't have any problem getting an unbranded phone or a phone unlocked.

Europe has phones that are much cooler then what's offered in the States.

How Very Verizon of Them (1)

ewhac (5844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161326)

Does this constitute one of those material changes to the service contract that lets you cancel early without a termination fee?


Thanks (1)

twostar (675002) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161438)

Now if I had known that two weeks ago I wouldn't have signed up for another 2 years. Thanks a lot. Really, that's just awesome. Explains why I've been getting a run around from tech support. It took three emails to get them to understand I wasn't talking about blocked ports but their stupid firmware java/network access restrictions.

Re:Thanks (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161662)

you do know that you should be inside the "i was drunk/ stoned/ and ive changed my mind oh heres the new phone back" period or you claim breach of contract

Re:Thanks (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161796)

This is FUD. T-Mobile branded phones NEVER supported Google Maps or Gmail for Mobile. Just buy a non-T-Mobile branded phone (unlocked of course) and all the apps work fine.

I have an HTC Trinity P3600 and I use GOogle Maps (with GPS!), Gmail for Mobile, and Skype and it works flawlessly.

Slashdot editors don't understand the difference between a T-Mobile branded phone and a real unencumbered phone.

Re:Thanks (2, Informative)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161874)

Up until last week Google maps and Gmail both worked on my T-Mobile branded phone. Now they don't. No FUD, they really didn't just start blocking this stuff.

iPhone (0, Troll)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161450)

And you wonder why Apple went with Cingular instead of T-Mobile. The difference between the two? Apple locks you into non-crappy apps.

Re:iPhone (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161612)

As of now, the iPhone is vaporware. Can't call the apps non-crappy until it ships.

A little more substantial (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161680)

I'd say the iPhone is a lot more substantial than vaporware. You don't advertise vaporware during the oscars. We just don't know details yet.

I have T-Mobile and a Blackberry 7290... (3, Interesting)

SnappyCrunch (583594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161490)

...and as of right now, Google Maps still works.

I have T-Mobile and a Sidekick 3 (2, Informative)

TrashGUY (966340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161540)

All the apps i got or made with my dev key work still too. Then again I believe the danger phone operate different since I have no exp with any other smart device.

Sprint has a nice loophole... (2, Informative)

Afecks (899057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161512)

I hope no one from Sprint is paying attention but using a PPC-6700 on a plan with unlimited data access but no extra "modem tethering" plan it's still possible to use your phone as a dial-up modem. This frees you up to use your laptop on the internet anywhere in their coverage area without an extra card or extra cost. Nothing beats a full size browser with Javascript. Verizon sells the same phone as the VX6700 but from what I hear they had a firmware update that "fixed" it.

Re:Sprint has a nice loophole... (2, Informative)

cascino (454769) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161676)

That's possible on any Sprint PCS Vision phone, using the *777 (PPP) code and a USB adapter. It's THE reason why I'm still with Sprint.

I'm certainly pissed (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161522)

I just switched from Verizon to T-Mobile three weeks ago to get away from bullshit like this. Fuck them. I though they were supposed to be the US carrier that sucked the least, now who can you go to?

Re:I'm certainly pissed (2, Informative)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161638)

Well, if you're under contract, you can probably break it with this change.

Was this question necessary? (1)

RESPAWN (153636) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161544)

Would anyone care to speculate if this move is likely to retain or repel customers?
Was that question at the end of the submission really necessary? I mean, this is /. Unless you're new here, you already know that /.'ers steadfastly approve of being able to run third party apps on their phones and will spur any carrier who states otherwise.

So... I guess this means that T-Mobile is on the /. blacklist, too...

It's the question of our time (1)

UncleCrappy (831324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161554)

We've been going through this for years. Balance security and freedom. And security is always heavier on the scale. Now, it's not just politicians and diplomats trying to scare us, it's the people we buy stuff from. If you don't like it, switch to a new provider. At least in the marketplace you can make your vote count with your dollar, while at the polls, youcan't be sure if your vote is counted at all.

Misinformation (2)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161562)

Sascha Segan (author): "Tony, I maybe didn't make clear enough that this is a feature phone problem. No carrier, not even Verizon, dares forbid application installation on smartphones such as Blackberries, Windows Mobile phones, or Treos."

Um, this isn't quite the sky is falling scenario he makes it out to be in the article. Of course, any bad publicity it generates is still a good thing.

This makes no sense (0)

jonwil (467024) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161604)

I am guessing T-Mobile charges the same high per-kilobyte or per-megabyte GPRS/EDGE/etc data charges as Telstra here in australia do. Assuming that to be the case, wouldn't they WANT people to use the mobile internet as much as possible being that more use = more data downloaded = more money for T-Mobile.

Although given some of the crap I have seen from US Cell carriers, I am not surprised.

If you are unlucky enough to be stuck with a crippled phone, just find a firmware hack to unlock the missing features (if its a motorola phone, you should be able to find a SEEM/menu file/filesystem/whatever hack that will enable the missing functionality without the need to reflash the firmware at all)

Re:This makes no sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18161692)

Nope. $20/mo gets you unlimited data.

Flash the firmware? (1)

Klinky (636952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161626)

I dunno, but it seems this is only an issue on T-Mobile branded phones. I have a Motorola V360 which never worked with Opera Mini with the stock firmware. Once I flashed it over to a different firmware it allowed Opera acess to the network. I don't see how they can actively block 3rd party apps, but allow the built in WAP browsers(atleast on a network level, firmware they can, but you can flash the firmware).

Hmmmm..... (2)

boxxa (925862) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161634)

Strange. So much for having 3rd party developers support their phones and produce programs and apps that make customers want to buy their phones and data plans.

Personally, I will never buy another Get It Now enabled Verizon phone. Its expensive. The programs suck.

Ever since I got my Treo and can put my own custom Palm apps on it, the service has been so much better and I have even upgraded to the data plan to use these apps.

Restriction for New T-Mobile Branded Phones Only! (1)

paskal (150433) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161636)

As usual, the title of a Slashdot post had me panicking while after reading the article, realized there was no need.

I've been using my non-branded W800 on T-Mobile for over a year now, no problems.

How many people who get the free phone with contract you think will care about this? I'd think somewhere between zero and none.

Does anyone know how long this has been the policy with their new phones? I bet it was quite some time ago.

Re:Restriction for New T-Mobile Branded Phones Onl (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161706)

It started last Wednesday, at least that's when my gmail and google maps last worked.

dead spots retained (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161652)

meanwhile, work on shoring up coverage gaps on major freeways in metropolitan areas has been shelved due to exceedingly low t-mo give-a-shit levels

Thanks for the warning! (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161688)

I was thinking of switching from Sprint because of the stupid restrictions on my Nokia phone imposed by Sprint. I had assumed T-Mobile was more likely to be open, because they're using a more open protocol (GSM). I guess not.

This is FUD -- it doesn't affect non-OEM phones (2)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161762)

I use an HTC Trinity P3600 and this will NOT affect me. I also tether my laptop to my P3600 (bluetooth or USB) and I will also not be limited.

This is ONLY if you use T-Mobile branded phones. I called my customer retention agent and she confirmed over and over that this will NOT affect third party bought phones, which is the only way to play unless you want to try to buy an outdated phone of T-Mobiles at a discount price.

FUD, FUD, FUD. I love my T-Mobile phone and I travel to 13 states to do business, plus I work in Europe and Asia regularly and my phone works fine there with my T-Mobile SIM (albeit pricey but it works fine).

One of two reasons I'm not longer with T-Mobile (1)

mdboyd (969169) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161764)

I had a Tmobile/Danger Sidekick II. I loved the thing but they locked it down like crazy. You couldn't transfer your own ringtones or even attempt to install your own applications. Instead, you had to purchase any and all applications and ringtones from the "Download Catalog." The device was great except for that huge setback. That and the fact that T-Mobile gets terrible service around here. At least with the phone I have now I can actually use the hardware that I purchased.

Cell networks are stuck in the 20th century (3, Interesting)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161826)

Perhaps the problem with cell phone networks in general is that they were designed in a closed environment with a need for profit.

Compare cell phone networks to the Internet which was designed mostly by scientists and engineers in an academic, peer reviewed environment with the simple goal of building an efficient network.

If the Internet had been designed phone companies, you'd by your computer from you're ISP and it probably wouldn't work with any other ISP, your ISP bill would list every site you visited that month, overseas sites would be charged at a higher rate, and DNS would probably be sold as a 'white pages' lookup service where they could charge you a penny for every click.

Phone systems are just plain dumb and the people who run them are concerned more with nickel and diming you for every trivial service they can think of than they are in building good network infrastructure.

The FCC is largely to blame for this because they choose to auction off the airways to the highest bidder almost without regard as to how that bidder is going use the medium.

I'm no fan of big government but if we're going to have regulation, then let's do the thing right. Let's require cell phone companies to provide mobile IP addresses and let anybody access their network with the hardware and software of his own choosing. Let the consumer buy *airtime*, nothing more, and let the consumer decide whether he'll use voice, download music, stream video, text message, etc., just like we do with landline companies.

O RLY? (2, Interesting)

rit (64731) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161840)

Uhm, that's weird.
Seeing as this morning my office gave me a brand new Blackberry 8700G (Edge network, fast processor) and the first thing I did was install Google Maps.

It installed with Zero problems, and it runs great.

So... what's this about banning third party apps?

Repel?! Maybe. Discontinue Service?! Most Likely. (1)

k1mus4b1 (1036440) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161858)

I am a T-Mobile customer who is somewhat addicted to using third party apps. The main one I think would be my Gmail app, which I use to almost religiously check my e-mail when not near a console. Other apps I use include Google Maps and whatnot, but truthfully they are just there for kicks. If I currently didn't have T-Mobile, I don't think the idea that not being able to use third party apps would repel me. In fact I might even think that their service is more secure, but thats where the line ends. As it stands, I am currently a T-Mobile user, and I haven't had a single problem, security related, with any of my third party apps. Switching services is running thru my mind, and pending a phone call to tech-support requesting support for third party, I doubt I will keep the service. rollover minutes here i come...

repel or indifferent (4, Insightful)

metroplex (883298) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161884)

I think this move will repel those with an even slight knowledge of mobile apps, but the majority of customers just won't care. Out of all the people I know, those who use the web capabilities of their portable phone are surprisingly few. No one I know has opera mini installed, let alone caring which apps can be installed and which cannot.

Technologically less educated people in those case just believe the salesperson and assume it is "not compatible" with certains apps (which it is, but on purpose), but buy it anyway because it looks shiny or has a 3 megapixel camera.

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