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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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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.


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