Rogers & Android: When the Carrier is the Bottleneck
A few months ago I was fortunate to get my hands on a Google/HTC Android Dev Phone. I got this device by registering as an Android developer and buying an unlocked phone. I always buy phones independent of any carrier as I often find that unlocked versions have far more features than branded devices you'd get from a mobile carrier like Rogers.
What fascinates me about Android is that it's open source, and from an innovation perspective has the potential for speedy evolution, as apps and improvements are contributed from diverse development communities. Unlike the iPhone, Android is open, and therefore easier for developers to contribute and make it a better platform with better applications.
However in order for these benefits to be realized, the phone running Android software needs to updated regularly. This was the primary reason I paid extra to get an unlocked version, so that I would be able to update the device myself. Unfortunately not everyone is willing to jump on the learning curve to do this, so the vast majority of Android owners bought their device from their carrier.
This creates a bottleneck, in which the owner of the device is dependent upon their carrier to approve an update. Here in Canada, if you have an Android phone from Rogers, this means you've been out of luck, and may be so for some time to come.
I've written previously about the power of crowd sourcing via bulletin board collaboration, as people work together to find the answers to difficult problems. This lack of Android support from Rogers was brought to my attention by Michael Schmidt who as a member of AndroidForums.com has worked to find out why Rogers has been so sluggish to make updates available.
Even worse, Rogers customers who have Android devices are also not able to access paid apps in the Android Marketplace. So in buying a device with the potential to experience the latest and greatest in mobile technology, they are limited if not blocked by their carrier! Talk about poor service.
Android is a neat platform, that has a lot of potential. The problem however is that it faces obstacles, and Rogers' failure to properly support it is a substantial one. Enabling openness is a smart way to harness the innovative potential of the internet.