When I wrote about Android’s pursuit of the biggest losers, I made the explicit claim, backed by data, that Android was most attractive to device vendors who were in financial distress. Android is a lifeline to sustain failing business models. But underlying that claim was the more sinister implication that Android is sustaining to the incumbent operator business models. That means that Android is subject to operator manipulation and its market access as well as those of competing platforms will be throttled to maintain control.
The article below makes an even stronger case.
As a result, we now have a situation where the U.S. telecoms are reconsolidating their power and putting customers at a disadvantage. And, their empowering factor is Android. The carriers and handset makers can do anything they want with it. Unfortunately, that now includes loading lots of their own crapware onto these Android devices, using marketing schemes that confuse buyers (see the Samsung Galaxy S), and nickle-and-diming customers with added fees to run certain apps such as tethering, GPS navigation, and mobile video.
I would not say that Android is enabling the consolidation of operator power. I would say that operator power never wavered.
The article concludes:
Despite the ugly truth that Android is enabling the U.S. wireless carriers to exert too much control over the devices and keep the U.S. mobile market in a balkanized state of affairs, Android remains the antithesis of the closed Apple ecosystem that drives the iPhone and so it’s still very attractive to a lot of technologists and business professionals.
But, the consequence of not putting any walls around your product is that both the good guys and the bad guys can do anything they want with it. And for Android, that means that it’s being manipulated, modified, and maimed by companies that care more about preserving their old business models than empowering people with the next great wave of computing devices.
That sounds about right.