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Google has began censoring applications on its supposedly "open" G1 phone, due to overlap with services provided with its carrier T-Mobile. It has already yanked a number of tethering apps which T-Mobile is not fond of.
Google takes a page from Apple's playbook

When it comes to mobile apps, Apple has truly set the industry standard.  It was the first handset maker to launch an applications marketplace of the size and scale of its App Store, which recorded over 10 million downloads in its first week.  Other companies would launch similar marketplaces in coming months, like Google's Android Marketplace, or Microsoft's upcoming Sky Market.

However, Apple also received plenty of criticism for its censorship tactics.  Apple denied many applications including a proposed South Park application, for a variety of reasons.  Some rejected or removed applications were deemed offensive; others unlocked forbidden capabilities like tethering or true third-party browsing (not Safari WebKit based). 

Despite the negative reception over such moves, it appears Apple was leading the mobile industry yet again, as Google has reportedly resorted to practicing similar tactics with its Android Marketplace, which sells apps for its G1 smart phone.  T-Mobile, the G1's U.S. carrier, was not too pleased when tethering applications started popping up on the Android Marketplace.  In response, Google took down the apps and informed developers that the apps breached their Developer Distribution Agreement.

It is unclear at this point whether Google has weeded out all tethering apps, and exactly what its standards are.  However, it is clear T-Mobile's terms of service prohibit unofficial tethering.  The author of one of the rejected apps, Wifi Tether for Root Users, says that in a lengthy and heated exchange, Google cited this as a reason for the rejection.

The moves are creating quite a stir as Google has market the G1 as an "open" phone.  It has often taken jabs at Apple over its iPhone application censorship in the past.  Now it finds itself in the same sort of situation -- its carrier, T-Mobile, doesn't want to lose revenue from apps which offer features for free that the carrier charges for (tethering), so it is now forced to comply and remove the offensive app.

The start of G1 app censorship was foreshadowed last year when a "kill switch" for applications was discovered.  However, it was rarely used -- until now.

The whole situation has many G1 users quite unhappy, but it appears to be a sad reality of the smart phone world.  Ultimately, smart phone makers are at mercy of their carriers.  And carriers hate to lose revenue to rebel applications.



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How long will it take?
By Proteusza on 3/31/2009 9:33:57 AM , Rating: 5
For telcos to get over themselves and realize that they are just dump pipes? I dont care if they dont like us tethering, they better get used to it. The mobile network 3 in the UK already offers a Skype phone, hopefully competition will force the others to follow suit.

Their unwillingness to change their business model reminds me of the fall of the record companies. Perhaps free wifi will become ubiqitious and then nobody will bother with slow GSM anymore? We can only hope.




RE: How long will it take?
By Shadowself on 3/31/2009 9:42:17 AM , Rating: 3
I fully agree.

When will the carriers realize that bits are bits and data is data? It does not matter if I use my laptop or the phone's native interface. The bits are the same.

It's like those web sites that force you over to a "mobile" version of their website as soon as they detect you're on a phone's interface. Then I have to manually go to the "standard" version of their site. They need to make their standard site so it is not onerous to a mobile platform and have only ONE site. CNN (among many others) are you listening?


RE: How long will it take?
By xsilver on 3/31/2009 9:51:30 AM , Rating: 2
some sites dont even have an option to go to the standard non mobile site - which just sucks because their mobile site is so bad.

Maybe there is a browser workaround?


RE: How long will it take?
By DCstewieG on 3/31/2009 10:15:28 AM , Rating: 3
I don't know, even on an iPhone a mobile site can be really nice. I like Digg's mobile version, for instance.


RE: How long will it take?
By Totally on 3/31/2009 12:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
*cough*Dailytech*cough*


RE: How long will it take?
By omnicronx on 3/31/2009 12:23:07 PM , Rating: 3
Of course you agree, you probably do not want to pay for tethering. Bits are bits, but when you can download 10x more bits on your computer than on your cell phone, there may be a cause for concern. I never go over 500MB per month with normal cell phone usage which includes streaming from my home PC. Meanwhile I tether while on vacation for a few days and easily surpass the GB mark.

You want a service, you pay for it, this sense of entitlement these days is getting out of hand.


RE: How long will it take?
By aebiv on 3/31/2009 1:08:30 PM , Rating: 3
I agree, it is up to the provider, but when I pay for "unlimited" they shouldn't care how I use the unlimited.

Even with a 5gb a month "soft cap" why should AT&T care how I use my data? It could be on my phone or on my laptop and the speed isn't going to be any different. Sure, I may use up more bandwidth quicker on the laptop due to some of the sites and programs I run, but I'll still probably get a phone call at 5gb saying I need to stop.

The tethering thing will die. It has to. I've xfered on average about 2gb a month WITHOUT tethering.


RE: How long will it take?
By omnicronx on 3/31/2009 1:23:26 PM , Rating: 2
This is where I agree, I don't think the plans are exactly fair, but that's where competition comes in. Someone is always going to offer something better.

Yes tethering plans are too high right now, but that will change as the demand raises and more pressure is put upon the carriers. But I am sick and tired of hearing people complain about their inability to tether, you have an unlimited mobile phone plan, not an unlimited use my phone as a modem plan.

As time goes on you will see all carriers specify this in your contract, I know mine already does.


RE: How long will it take?
By omnicronx on 3/31/2009 1:26:01 PM , Rating: 2
Worst part of it all is all your geniouses that support tethering do not realize that the more people like you take advantage of it, the slower normal data rate plans will go down.


RE: How long will it take?
By Suntan on 3/31/2009 2:48:15 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Meanwhile I tether while on vacation for a few days and easily surpass the GB mark.


So let me get this straight, you’re on vacation… …and you’re still glued to the internet on your computer…

Sounds like a lot of fun had on those vacations.

-Suntan


RE: How long will it take?
By omnicronx on 3/31/2009 4:38:31 PM , Rating: 2
I mainly stream music, and perhaps the odd Movie if we (my girlfriend and I) get bored.

Thanks for taking the time to go totally off topic and make a jab for no reason though.

-Omni AKA 'I'm so Cool because I sign my name on a blog website'


RE: How long will it take?
By FITCamaro on 3/31/2009 4:58:32 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It's like those web sites that force you over to a "mobile" version of their website as soon as they detect you're on a phone's interface. Then I have to manually go to the "standard" version of their site. They need to make their standard site so it is not onerous to a mobile platform and have only ONE site. CNN (among many others) are you listening?


Uh yeah thats because the vast majority of phones don't support all the bells and whistles modern PC internet browsers do. It's also far larger and would take longer to load.

Until we get to a time where all phones have a fully compatible browser and a screen that can effectively view it, we'll have mobile specific sites.

It's not a bad thing either.


RE: How long will it take?
By Chadder007 on 3/31/2009 5:13:51 PM , Rating: 2
I was awaiting an Android based phone for Verizon...I won't consider one now.
The cheaper phones are already hackable for tethering anyway.


Picture Caption
By napalmjack on 3/31/2009 9:28:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It has already yanked a number of tethering apps, which T-Mobile is not fond of.


This makes it seem like T-Mobile does not want Google to pull these apps, but in the article, it says that T-Mobile prohibits tethering in it's terms of service.

JM, which is it?




RE: Picture Caption
By FITCamaro on 3/31/2009 9:32:55 AM , Rating: 2
TMobile is not fond of the apps and wants them gone. Google complied.

Not that hard.


RE: Picture Caption
By napalmjack on 3/31/2009 11:01:45 AM , Rating: 2
Looks like the caption and picture have been changed, so nvm.


RE: Picture Caption
By MisterChristopher on 3/31/2009 2:20:40 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like its time for google to either offer non-t-mobile (open) G1's, or simply start their own network. Did they end up getting beat out in that auction? I can't remember. But regardless, its stupid that we can't just pay for unlimited internet connections and then use that connection however we want.


RE: Picture Caption
By FITCamaro on 3/31/2009 4:55:24 PM , Rating: 2
Google lost and won. They basically got what they wanted. They don't have rights to the spectrum but Verizon has to have an open network (which is what Google wanted in the first place).

Google had no real intention of winning the auction.


RE: Picture Caption
By omnicronx on 3/31/2009 12:13:58 PM , Rating: 2
Why does it have to be one or the other? Tmobile requested it, and Google performed the deed. Thus they are both responsible, although Google was obviously pressured by T-mobile.


Doesn't change much
By Bharakrama on 3/31/2009 9:52:33 AM , Rating: 4
I don't really see the big deal. Just because they are off the marketplace doesn't mean you can't download it off a website and install it. All you gotta do is check mark the "Allow install of non-Market applications" and get the app installed.




RE: Doesn't change much
By dagamer34 on 3/31/2009 10:26:45 AM , Rating: 2
The people that were dumb enough to pay for the tethering option through T-Mobile never would have figured that out. Heck, they might not even realize that you can download apps to their phone.

And don't think it's not true. Sadly, it really is. =/


RE: Doesn't change much
By Mojo the Monkey on 3/31/2009 4:13:31 PM , Rating: 3
Its actually more complicated than that, but not by much. You have to go root your phone with a download from the xda forums. Its not that hard to do, but enough to deter most casual users.

I think rooting the phone also has implications for future over-the-air updates, but I may be wrong. I'm sure someone else on here knows more.


RE: Doesn't change much
By dvinnen on 3/31/2009 7:53:26 PM , Rating: 2
I was trying to figure out the same thing. Anyone who can root the phone can figure out how to d/l the app from their open source site.

I just checked my G1 and it still works so no kill switch has been thrown. Even if a kill switch exists JesusFreak will figure it out and kill it.


Clarification
By Shadowself on 3/31/2009 9:37:46 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
When it comes to mobile apps, Apple has truly set the industry standard. It was the first cellular carrier to launch an applications marketplace of the size and scale of its App Store, which recorded over 10 million downloads in its first week.


Apple is not a carrier. It is just a handset maker.




"kill switch" use?
By Anonymous Freak on 3/31/2009 11:31:48 AM , Rating: 2
So did Google actually "pull the kill switch" on tethering apps, or just pull them from the Marketplace?

As in: If you already downloaded the app, does it still work?

That is one place that people were hyper-sensitive about Apple, that Apple would just pull the plug on an app for people who had already downloaded it. Yet people who downloaded the iPhone tethering app that was only available for a few hours can still use it, many months later.

To me, "kill switch" refers to the ability to deactivate an app that is already on your phone. This is just "pulling from the marketplace".




RE: "kill switch" use?
By omnicronx on 3/31/2009 12:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
Furthermore, you can still install anything you want on the G-1. If anyone wants to develop their own tethering apps, they still can. They just cannot sell it on the store.


The real problem...
By bkaz on 3/31/2009 3:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
This whole issue came up because of the way the cell phone market is set up. Its the same way in Canada as in the US, but I don't know in how many other countries. It's set up so you usually have to get your cellphone from the service provider, so it's an all in one package, but with lots of restrictions. Many people usually bypass these restrictions.

In other countries, the hardware is separate from the service. The phone is sold in a store, not by the service provider, and nothing to do with the service provider; an entirely different business. The service provider just sells you a chip, some prepaid, some year long contracts, etc. The point is, the two are separated, people own their phone, and can put whatever they want on the phone. The OS & phone providers no longer have to deal with the service provider.




RE: The real problem...
By Ananke on 3/31/2009 5:40:43 PM , Rating: 2
Would I be better off just buying Nokia X5800? It is Symbian based...open source


This is horrible
By tshen83 on 3/31/2009 9:55:03 AM , Rating: 3
This is clearly in direct opposition to what Tmobile CTO revealed at the launch of G1.

http://www.engadget.com/2008/09/23/t-mobiles-cto-o...

Do you guys know how much the carriers actually sell the minutes to distributors? I have talked to a cell phone service broker, and he told me that Cell Phone Minutes are sold for as little as 0.1 cent per minute at bulk rates.

That means what consumers pay (10 cents a minute) or a monthly bill of 50 dollars for around 500 minutes is a 100 time mark up on true cost. This is the rape of the century in my humble opinion, and it is sad that the cell phone companies aren't allowing tethering.

My suggestion: get ClearWire WiMax, and go mobile Linux routing like the Cradlepoint.




By DeepBlue1975 on 3/31/2009 1:33:03 PM , Rating: 2
I think I've read 3dstudio is gonna produce some pretty nice phones which will be then branded by cell phone carriers like Nokia, Samsung, and HTC.

It other order of news, Porsche, the traffic agency, has disclosed that they had quite a good revenue in the last quarter, mainly because they bought a big tire maker named "Volkswagen".

I also heard that the hosting company, DailyTech, does publish some tech articles even though it has nothing to do with their usual hosting businesses...




WM5 FTW?
By tjr508 on 3/31/2009 6:20:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm tethered as we speak! And its not a downloaded app, it comes with WM5. On top of that it shares the same IP as my phone so the telcos don't charge extra.

Speaking of Google, how's that new web browser? Firefox has been around for years and years and they still allow pages (EVEN THE FF START PAGE) to move my cursor when I'm trying to type in an address.




"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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