AT&T's foray into Android phones seems almost like it is a marketing campaign for Apple's iPhone. It certainly doesn't seem to be very friendly to Google, anyway.
Last week, it was announced that AT&T was replacing the market-leading, Google search on the Google Android-powered Motorola Backflip with Yahoo's search. WHAT?
That's like selling In-N-Out Burgers except taking out the meat and replacing it with hospital-quality "Beef-like" patties. That alone borders on sabotage!?
Out of the box, AT&T has installed some of its trademark crapware that no one wants. It also tries to lock down the Backflip so you can't install non-market apps (like those used to tether). Every other carrier supports this (which is one of Android's few advantages over the iPhone). There is a pretty easy hack to get around the block (install the SDK) but not everyone will understand how to do this. You also don't have SSH access on AT&T's Android phone.
That back slider seems like a great idea. Almost as good as a touch screen interface.
AT&T, famous for their useful apps, has added the following AT&T applications to the Motorola Backflip:
AT&T Navigator (Telenav)
AT&T WiFi Hotspots
At release, the Backflip will already be a generation behind (OS 1.5 w/Motoblur vs. Droid and Nexus One's 2.1) and underpowered. Motorola says the Backflip is updatable to 2.1 but why not have this at launch?!
AT&T, of course, spins this as being customer-centric:
We like the Android as an operating system on its own, but we want to make sure that we have, and customers have the option, to put applications on that device that are not just Google applications. And we want to give customers the choice of other applications on that device, not just the same Google applications. --Ralph de la Vega, CEO AT&T Wireless
The Backflip also has a 320x480 screen. That is the same as the current iPhone and Pre but last year's Android phones. The Droid and Nexus One have almost three times the pixels on their 480x800+ screens. I have to believe the iPhone wil get a similar pixel upgrade this summer.
And the kiss of death? AT&T's network which is famous for dropped calls and abysmal coverage.
I'm trying to figure out why anyone would want this device. Need GSM network for international travel? Nexus One. Need physical Keyboard? Droid. Need AT&T (condolences)? iPhone.
Needless to say, I don't think AT&T's Android experiment is off to a good start.