Verizon, unfortunately, is also what ruins the phone. Or, rather, what it’s forced Samsung to do to the phone, which you could sum up in a word: Bing. Bing is the default—and only—search engine on the Fascinate. A Google Android phone. In the search widget, in the browser, when you press the search button. Bing. No, you can’t change it. There’s no setting for it, and the Google Search widget that you can snag from the Market is blocked (or at least very carefully hidden). Being unwittingly forced into Verizon and Bing’s conjugal relationship is infuriating on its own, but the implementation also feels like the sloppy hack that it is.
John Gruber astutely adds:
Android is “open”, but who it’s open for, primarily, are the carriers. (Somehow I doubt we’ll see any Windows Phone 7 devices where Google is the one and only search option.)
The primary defense of Google’s Android strategy is that it’s beneficial in driving traffic to Google’s services/properties. This is by no means a certainty. To the contrary, it seems likely that the Android experience will be defined by operator back-room deals.
See also: asymco | Android vs. Google Part II
Coupling a lack of control over the platform, the revenue streams, the user experience, the potential banishment of AdMob from iOS and an attack on Google’s brand, Android is currently winning the war with Google.
However, my money long term remains with Google. They can and will eventually beat Android. Perhaps with Chrome.
[Footnote: if anyone wonders why Verizon, Google’s best friend in mobile, is gutting Android, you need to remember an exclusive five-year deal Microsoft struck with the carrier to provide search and advertising services on the phone. Microsoft was rumored to pay $500 million for the opportunity.]