Android is open unless you want to change your search engine to Google, or use tethering or Google maps or non-market apps

That means no seamless integration with Gmail. No Google Latitude. No multitouch in the map app, either. And in place of the free and fantastic turn-by-turn Google Navigator app, Verizon installed its VZ Navigator service — a feature which costs $10 a month to use.

It would be one thing for Verizon to set the default search and map app to Bing with the option to switch back to Google. But it’s utterly inexcusable for Verizon to destroy the possibility of a switch without the user having to root the device and, under Verizon’s company policies, void their warranty. And on top of that, repeatedly charge you for a sub-par service instead of keeping the gold standard of navigation apps for free.

And as bad as that is, there’s now a rumor that Verizon will be doing this again. On every single one of its Android devices.

After speaking with a Verizon representative about the Bing debacle on the Fascinate — who also lied about the existence of a search alternative — The Droid Guy contacted two Verizon tipsters who told him that the carrier “is dropping the Google Search from all future Android Devices and offering Bing in it’s [sic] place.”

via Verizon Rumored To Replace Google With Bing On All Android Devices | Markets |

Lots more in the linked article.

This story just keeps getting better and better.

Regardless of motivations, the restriction if broadly applied would have Verizon reneging on its pledge to support the openness of Android and reflects a wider trend of the OS being artificially restricted by carriers. Most US providers are disabling Android 2.2’s tethering support in favor of their own, and AT&T has banned non-Market Android apps under the pretext of security. The moves paradoxically leave Apple’s iPhone more open in some areas, as its users can choose Google, Bing or Yahoo for search and don’t have first-party apps deliberately hidden or broken.

Read more: Electronista

  • Jason

    No iPhone on Verizon then. I'm with Apple on this. Unless Verizon can stop their brain-dead practice of crippling their phones with their own lackluster junkware, then we'll never see a Verizon iPhone. The question I have is: how long until Verizon customers decide to stop being force-fed this junk?

    Verizon keeps this up precisely because they are the largest provider. Until we see people leaving in droves, they will continue to do so.

  • Steven Noyes

    Sadly, Verizon has a far better network. While AT&T has improved greatly in the past 3 years, it is still a far cry from what Verizon offers. For people that require access in smaller communities, remote areas or in hard to serve places, Verizon is the only option.

    But at the end of the day, both Apple and Verizon are control freaks. Verizon about their network and the devices on it. Apple about their devices and the applications on them. This has resulted in a superior network for Verizon and a superior device for Apple. Each with their own restrictions.

    Personally, I believe that the overlap of the two companies anal retentive aspect, the device, is going to have to give a bit before we ever see a Verizon iPhone. Verizon will relent on a few things on the device (like no Verizon Nike like swoosh) and Apple will relent a bit on allowing an application or two (like Verizon Navigator) to be pre-installed.

    • Apple's control is motivated by having a great user experience. At what point does Verizon's motivation for control justify keeping better products and services out of the hand of their customers?

      They may both be control freaks but I don't trust Verizon's motives.

      • Steven Noyes

        It used to be (and still might be), that Verizon dictated the menu structure of all their feature and messaging phones. This provided a consistant UI between devices from multiple manufactures. It was not a Samsung interface, it was a Verizon Interface. It was not a Motorola interface, it was a Verizon interface. This provide distinct differentiation with other carriers beyond just the network. It also simplified support and simplified moving to new devices within Verizon's family of devices. VCast worked about the same on all devices that supported it. This in turn helped keep customers and helped Verizon grow its network.
        NOTE: I am not saying the menu structures of these phones were good. In fact, I hated them and thought they were poorly laid out, but I could move from Verizon phone to Verizon phone with minimal re-learning.

        We see similar things starting to happen within the Android world. HTC with Sense UI. Motorola with Blur. Samsung with TouchWiz. The handset manufactures are having to differentiate somehow.

        Verizon also has all these commitments with companies like Blockbuster (are they not in some type of bankruptcy?), Skype, Microsoft and such. Verizon wants to differentiate from other networks using "Oh, you want Android and you want Skype? Guess what?"

        Verizon's motivations are to make a buck just like any other company. Android provides a great means to do that. No R&D in developing the platform, let handset manufactures scrimp for minimal profits and an ability to play companies off each other (MS vs Google for example) to make sure no other company can be in a position to challenge their control.

        As much as I want a Verizon iPhone? I can't see Apple and Verizon getting along.

    • Jason

      I agree about Apple and Verizon being control freaks, but one could argue that Apple's method of controlling their platform results in a better end-user experience (more secure, reliable, and focused on quality), whereas Verizon's control does not offer a better experience – the exact opposite actually.

  • min

    Just because it's open doesn't mean it can't be closed. "Please, step inside so I can close the door behind you", said VZN.

  • iE on PCs have MS search by default, but that doesn't stop the majority from going to Googe directly. I suppose same maybe true for hard-wired search on mobile devices. people can just open the browser and type

    Still, how ironic for Google. No direct revenue for the OS and Google search on the devices. The more I learn about G, the less I am impressed with their business acumen.

    If iPhone ships on T mobile and Sprint in January, Verizon issue will take care of itself.

  • Gandhi

    "If iPhone ships on T mobile and Sprint in January, Verizon issue will take care of itself."

    Yep, that will take of the problem

  • FalKirk

    "Verizon’s motivations are to make a buck just like any other company."-Stephen Noyes

    This is not the place to discuss this in detail, but I want to point out that there is a difference between a company that thinks win/lose and a company that thinks win/win. Many companies think of their customers as their enemies and that it is their job to "extract" fees, royalties, rents, etc. from them. Other try to provide a service that is so superior that their customers gladly pay them for it. Yes, every company does and should want to make money. But there is a big difference between doing it at the expense of your customer or doing it because you're serving your customer.

    • Tom

      This was the motivating drive that had Apple protect the iPhone from the telco's in the first place. They looked at all the feature phones and smart phones, hated what they saw and used, and made the phone they would like, not the phone the telco's would sell. As imperfect as ATT is, they agreed to Apple's approach: Apple makes the phone; the telco provides the network for the phone.
      Verizon thought that idea stank.

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