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  1.    #1  
    Verizon's Fascinate reaches new lows among smartphones run amok
    By Rob Pegoraro, Saturday, September 25, 2010; 7:42 PM

    A "Google phone" hand-cuffed to Microsoft's Bing search engine sounds like a bad joke. But it's a real product, one for whichVerizon Wireless charges $199.99.

    This device, Samsung's Fascinate, is the latest - and the worst - example of an ugly trend among smartphones running Google's Android operating system.

    Instead of being content to sell an attractive, open alternative to Apple' s iPhone, wireless carriers have decided they'd rather treat the screens of Android phones as billboard space to be sold to the highest bidder.

    Anyone who's spent an hour on a new laptop deleting desktop shortcuts, uninstalling trial applications and peeling off stickers should know this concept. But while some PC manufacturers have realized that customers hate getting a computer full of "crapware,"the carriers refuse to learn from their example - and on an Android phone, the effects are much worse.

    The extra applications that a carrier installs not only clutter the screen, they also eat up precious system memory that would be better used on programs you actually want. And because carriers implant these add-ons in a protected area of the phone's storage, you can't uninstall them.

    Carriers have abused their privileges to weld on such extras as $10/month navigation tools that duplicate what Google's own map software does for free; a movie player for a little-used online service from the newly bankruptBlockbuster's; NASCAR and football applications; demos of various games; and advertisements for their services that eat up space in the notification bar at the top of the screen.

    AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless all offer the same excuse: They're trying to make the phone "experience" better. But they fail to explain why they don't let customers decline this help.

    With the Fascinate, however, Verizon has outdone them all. Not only does this slim device arrive with a cartload of Verizon apps bolted on, but its search button comes locked to Bing, and it leaves out Google Maps in favor of Microsoft's inferior alternative.

    Your only warning of these dramatic changes is the absence of Google's logo from the box and the back of the phone.

    A Verizon spokeswoman wrote that "by adding this option to our Android portfolio, we are giving customers more choice."

    Still more "choice" will come later this year when the company (having already coaxed Skype into offering its Android Internet calling application only for Verizon users) launches its own, separate Android app store - even though there's already a well-stocked, open and compatible Android Market.

    This arrogant control-freakery is what I feared when Google announced Android in 2007: Carriers have exploited Android's openness to treat their customers like their servants.

    Don't expect liberation from Google. The company gave up on the Nexus One, its attempt to sell an Android phone independently of carriers.

    And although Verizon's Fascinate seems to have exceeded whatever rules govern the use of the Google logo, the company imposes few requirements on access to Android Market - the one part of Android it controls. A "Compatibility Definition" fileallows phone vendors to write their own replacements for all of its 16 defined core applications.

    When Google wrote this document, it apparently forgot that the wireless carriers have no taste.

    What about simply leaning on these firms? Although Google has no problem throwing its weight around in some areas - the location-service provider Skyhook Wireless is suing the company for forcing carriers to drop its own offering - it thinks it would be unfair to push carriers to sell clean versions of their Android phones. Chief executive Eric Schmidt recently told reporters that such a move would violate "the principle of open source."

    But if Google chooses to be spineless, some of its users have not. Android's open-source roots - it's based on the Linux operating system- made it easy for Android experts to figure out how to unlock, or "root," their phones and then remove unwanted apps. This step has gotten a little simpler over time, as I discovered when I rooted anAndroid phone a few days ago.

    Android developers have since moved on to cooking up their own "ROMs," bundles of the core Android system and related applications. Adventurous users can use this to replace all of their phones' existing software - often gaining a healthy performance improvement in the process.

    These things aren't easy to do and will void a phone's warranty. But that might seem a fair price to be free of a marketing department's idea of how your phone should work.

    It's wonderful that Android's open-source core has let users take action on their own. It's pathetic that the arrogance of the carriers has left them no other option.
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  2. #2  
    I get more disappointed with vzw every day.

    this next contract renewal my not be automatic...
  3. #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by Cantaffordit View Post
    I get more disappointed with vzw every day.

    this next contract renewal my not be automatic...
    It should never be automatic. Each year I do an annual assessment of the 'Big Four' in my local area and where I routinely travel. The additional ~$200/year (new account fee + proration of monthly bill) to do this is well worth the long-term peace-of-mind.
  4. #4  
    As long as there is away to get rid of them (through rooting of course) i can deal.
  5.    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by Cantaffordit View Post
    I get more disappointed with vzw every day.

    this next contract renewal my not be automatic...
    Hi,

    Does V renew you automatically, or did you mean you might have in the past, automatically renewed it without thinking?

    My contract V ends in 3 weeks, on my Centro, (I have a 2 year contract), ...unless there is a great new smartphone from Palm on V, I am going to drop V and go to Sprint, as they are far cheaper and they didn't screw up the GPS.

    I would just like to keep my Centro month to month, until I see what Palm is offering and on which carrier! Isn't a month to month automatic, when you contract ends, but you haven't gotten a new phone?

    Take care, Jay
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  6. #6  
    I understand that verizon wireless has a contract with microsoft to make bing the first choice search engine on most if not all upcoming phones for a while, but honestly verizon? its a google phone. I heard they'll release an update that'll allow a download of the google search APP. but you still won't be able to change the default search engine to google. honestly, I've used bing and its not bad, but its no google. we're all accustomed to google, and I just don't see anyone using bing. ever.
    but, this sort of thing happens all the time. carriers love messing with products. verizon loves effing up gps and revert default search engines, i suppose. sprint is known for its hardware tweaks (the hero was changed completely when it came to sprint), etc etc.
    although they really shouldn't have that much push, I suppose we can't do anything about it : /
  7. MNotar91's Avatar
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    #7  
    That's really unacceptable and makes me frown at Verizon. It's a shame the Nexus One didn't sell well. I would love to buy my next phone directly from the manufacturer (I know HTC made the N1.) Verizon has ruined too many phones, including the Pre Plus. Thankfully there is a GPS fix that gets some sort of function out of the Plus GPS.
    - Verizon Palm Pre Plus UberKernel Screenstate 500/1000
    - Microsoft Zune HD 32gb
  8. MNotar91's Avatar
    Posts
    87 Posts
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    422 Global Posts
    #8  
    That's really unacceptable and makes me frown at Verizon. It's a shame the Nexus One didn't sell well. I would love to buy my next phone directly from the manufacturer (I know HTC made the N1.) Verizon has ruined too many phones, including the Pre Plus. Thankfully there is a GPS fix that gets some sort of function out of the Plus GPS.
    - Verizon Palm Pre Plus UberKernel Screenstate 500/1000
    - Microsoft Zune HD 32gb

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