US carriers have gone mad customizing perfectly fine devices and I wish every manufacturer had the pull of Apple to leave these smartphones the way they were designed to be used. The Galaxy S is a great product, but two of the four major US carriers have done what they can to cripple the experience to increase their revenues.
Imagine you’re Verizon. Thanks to an aggressive strategy developed with your new bff, Google, you’re offering a ton of cool new Android phones from most of the major mobile hardware manufacturers: Motorola, HTC, Samsung. You can’t sell them fast enough. And they come with Android, an operating system that, at version 2.2, is easily competitive with, if not more advanced than, Apple’s iOS.
If you’re Verizon, your next step will be to lock down the phones, remove the best software, and demand more money in return.
What planet is Verizon on? Apple had good instincts in its quest to reform the mobile industry (to advance its own interests, of course) — create the hardware and the software, create a new class of hardware, and allow zero interference from carriers.
But not every company is fronted by a Steve Jobs. And Google seems to have capitulated to the carriers after its failed attempt to control hardware and software with the Nexus One.
Along with the carriers’ fanatical desire to control for the sake of controlling lies another inexplicable need: To mangle “perfectly fine devices” — and a perfectly great operating system — without improving either. As Matthew Miller describes, once Verizon is through with hacking its new Samsung phone, the phone will be no better for the effort. Among other things, you’ll get a crappy Verizon maps app (that costs $10/month) instead of the great, and free, Google Maps, and users won’t be able to use Google search on a Google phone. Sounds great, Verizon.
Also, check out the comments on Miller’s post. Most are spot-on.