If you’ve been paying attention to the news releases regarding the HTC Aria, you know that AT&T will once again be locking down the apps users can install by restricting unofficial app downloading. If you’ve been paying attention for a while now, you also know that they did the same thing to the Motorola Backflip – the only other Android phone they offer.

Both phones already feature smaller, lower def screens, when compared to their Android brethren available on other networks. They both also have significantly slower processors than most Android phones. What gives?

Now granted, I’m no expert, but that just seems like bad business to me. I can’t understand what they hope to gain by limiting capability.

The only rationale I can think of involves the iPhone, so let me start off by saying, I like the iPhone. I think Apple makes great products – I’m currently rocking my fourth iPod, and I still use iTunes for music. I obviously also like Androids, and I personally prefer Android phones to the iPhone, but I realize they’re different products for different people. Point being – I’m not bashing Apple or the iPhone here, so no fanboy mania arguments, please.

My first guess is that they don’t want to risk making the iPhone look worse by offering it alongside a more open, user-controllable system. The iPhone is the iPhone, and it will always sell like hotcakes, but there’s no reason they wouldn’t want to help motivate sales anyway. iPhone exclusivity cost AT&T quite a bit – of course they want to pimp it as much as they can. They realize that Android is gaining momentum (at Google I/O, they reported that over 100,000 Android devices were being activated daily) and that as a result, consumers may be cross-shopping the two. AT&T wants to encourage customers to pick their crown jewel.


My second guess would be that AT&T actually agrees with Apple’s more locked-down business model and App Store. This also strikes me as illogical, and the only reasoning for that would be that they’re either as anti-freedom as Steve Jobs, or that they’re worried about subscribers sucking down data via unapproved tethering apps. Both of those things strike me as a bit of a stretch.

Regardless, I don’t think any of it makes sense, no matter which way you look at it.

[Source: Examiner]

Aaron Gingrich
Aaron is a geek who has always had a passion for technology. When not working or writing, he can be found spending time with his family, playing a game, or watching a movie.

  • Chris

    Thanks for the laugh, even funnier because its true.

    I'm not sure why AT&T benefits from not having the best phones available. With the leverage Apple has over them I wouldn't be surprised if they got the right to veto any phone releases that might outshine the iPhone. Either way, you can bet this practice will cease in two years or less. Thats when all these newly locked in iPhone 4 customers will start hitting the streets looking for alternatives. Presumably by then Verizon (and possibly others), will have the iPhone available.

    • ryan

      AT&T is nothing without Apple exclusivity. Apple of course, wants to be the best, even if it's only for that particular network (aka what they can control).

  • digitalthug

    Or, better yet, they will realise the iPhone is garbage compare to android.

  • derick

    I can't stand companies that lock out features that enable users to get what they pay for. Apple and AT&T are evil corporations. Apple does not allow any customization on their devices, at least not to the extent most other manufactures offer. I realize the iPhone is a powerful device, but I will never own one again because I am not a fan of apples 'its my way or the highway' philosophy with their devices. I enjoy customizing my HTC Droid incredible exactly how I want it. Apple and AT&T will fail hard, and it will happen sooner than you think.

  • Aaron Gingrich

    I agree that it's wrong, but at the same time, not everyone needs, wants, or can handle having that much control and power. I wouldn't buy an Android phone for my mother; I would buy her an iPhone. To me, they're like scissors - one for a lefty, one for a righty.

    • the Goat

      You come here and insult your mother? What kind of son are you? ;-)

      On a serious note, I've never understood the reasoning behind that thinking. Of you think one product is superior why would you think anybody should be relegated to use the inferior product? Sounds like North Korea to me. The privileged class has access to all kinds of luxuries that the common citizen "wouldn't be able to handle".

  • Argh

    My contract with At&t is up in July. Looks like I'll be going to Verizon for a decent Android.

  • ryan

    *Hugs his Nexus One*. Screw you AT&T, nanny nanny boo boo!