I saw on Digg today that Google discontinued sales of their Nexus One phone, following "disappointing sales."
What it really means from what I've read is that Google is just not selling the phone themselves directly but it can still be obtained via other means (developers can still buy them and they're still being sold in other countries), but that Google still intends to support the phone for the foreseeable future -- it will still be the first in line to get Android updates, for example.
I have a Nexus One and I like it and this news is a bit worrisome to me, but not in the way you might expect. Rather, because the Nexus One is one of the few Android phones that is truly open.
Apparently, the very first Android phone (the G1), the first Droid, and the Nexus One are pretty much the only Android phones that ship with the stock, vanilla, Android firmware. All the other HTC phones out there for example run the "HTC Sense" UI on top of Android, and the Motorola phones run the "Motoblur" UI; some people don't like these add-ons on top of Android and would rather run Android the way Google intended, using the stock vanilla release of the ROM. Or, some people just like to hack their phones and have root access on them.
The Nexus One phone made it really easy to unlock your bootloader and install custom/unsigned Android ROMs onto the phone if you wanted to (it would even provide a nice screen warning you that you're about to void your warranty). The Nexus One allows you to install whatever you want on it, and both Google and the phone itself fully supports this. But, other phones, notably the Motorola phones that come with an eFuse that will practically "brick" your phone if you try to modify its firmware, aren't so open.
There seems to be a trend in Android phones in which companies are trying to play Apple; Apple's iPhone devices are super locked down, and Apple tries to patch all the security holes to stop people from jailbreaking their devices - with each firmware release Apple tries to make it harder and harder to hack the iPhones. In Apple's ideal world, their hardware would be completely 100% impenetrable from hackers and nobody could modify their devices. It seems Android vendors want to copy this business model, which I for one do not like.
It seems Android vendors are "standing on the shoulders of giants," they look at Android and all they see is a free open source Linux-based mobile operating system, and they wanna just take all that hard work, add a few things to make their devices a major pain in the ass to hack (in their ideal world, absolutely impossible to hack) and then jerk their customers around in exactly the same way that Apple does. Is this really what Android was supposed to be all about? Just giving greedy megacorporations the cheap tools they need to strongarm part of the cell phone monopoly in their favor?
Hopefully the Nexus One won't be the last developer phone that can be bought by non-developers. I got mine specifically because it ran the stock unmodified Android firmware and because it was completely open to customization. As I ranted about before, I don't like how Apple is able to just slow down your old phones and force you to upgrade; at least I have the comfort of knowing I can easily flash any Android ROM onto my Nexus One and nobody can force me to upgrade by slowing my phone down or doing anything else malicious to it.
God help us if this is the future and we're stuck with many Apple-like companies all forcing us to use their locked-down devices that we're not allowed to touch at all for fear of permanently bricking our devices.
I've told parts of this story to various people and posted about it in notes on Facebook but here's finally a blog post that sums up all the reasons I don't like Apple.
I didn't care one way or another about Apple until I got an iPhone 3G about a year ago. I got it about a month before the iPhone 3GS model came out; I heard the 3GS was on its way but nobody knew when, but I figured, "a smartphone is a smartphone, who really cares if mine doesn't have a compass built in?" How wrong I was.
I didn't know then what Apple was planning to do in the following month. Basically, they release the 3.0 firmware upgrade for iPhone 3G users. The new firmware gives the 3G customers a taste of some of the new features and would encourage them to buy the upcoming 3GS phone to get the rest. But, one more thing, the 3.0 firmware slows your shit down! So, the customers who were fine with the 3G and didn't plan to upgrade to the 3GS, now, would probably want to buy the 3GS just because they get sick of the 3G being so slow.
If you take an iPhone 3G running the 2.x firmware and compare it side-by-side with the 3GS phone running the 3.0 firmware... the differences in speed and "snappiness" is negligible.
So basically, the 3G was slowed down, on purpose, and then when the Apple fanboys stopped complaining and got used to this new slowness... Apple releases the iPhone 3GS and "ohh my godd, it's SO fast and snappy!"
I've been telling everyone my prediction for the last year but now I'm writing it for my blog: my prediction is that this upcoming summer 2010, Apple will release the 4.0 iPhone OS firmware upgrade, which will slow down all the 3GS phones (Apple's currently latest model of iPhone), and then this will be followed a week or two later by Apple unveiling the iPhone 4, which will be OH-SO-FAST now compared to the crippled, slowed-down 3GS phones.
Let's just wait and see if I'm right.
For this reason, my iPhone 3G is the first, and last, Apple product I ever intend to own. Well, the only closed device, anyway; I do like the Mac OS X operating system, and with a Macbook you can always reinstall the operating system from the CD that came with your computer. But with locked-down devices, once you make the mistake of upgrading, you can't go back; modern iTunes versions make sure of this: when you try to restore your devices in iTunes now, iTunes insists on getting the very latest firmware from Apple and doesn't let you browse and choose an older firmware image.
Because of the way Apple abuses their iPhone and iPod Touch customers, you'd better believe they'll pull the same shit with iPad customers too. I hope all you iPad early adopters love your iPad now, but just wait and, approximately a year from now there will inevitably be a new model, and Apple will really want to slow your shit down to force you to either deal with the artificial slowness, or pay another $500+ to upgrade to the latest model.
So I'm not a fan of Apple's closed devices. But I'm also not a fan of Apple's policies in terms of their app store approvals and rejections.
It was all over the blogosphere when Apple banned the Google Voice application from the app store, and even started an FCC investigation about whether Apple had any legal right to do so. Why did Apple ban Google Voice? Because it competed with Apple's very own phone application.
Similarly, there have been other apps Apple has killed because Apple is anti-competitive, including an e-mail app that was better than Apple's built-in e-mail app. Apple likes to maintain a complete monopoly--nay, a dictatorship--over its app store, and it would rather completely exterminate any hint of competition than to actually, you know, compete back. If somebody made an e-mail app that kicks the ass of Apple's e-mail app, Apple should make their e-mail app better than the competition; it shouldn't just throw a bitchfit and say "BAWWWWW this app isn't approved for the app store!"
Apple, in this regard, comes off to me as being like an immature little child, who would rather throw the chess board on the floor and scatter all the pieces than to even think about dealing with any form of competition whatsoever.
In the "App Store Competition" boat also sits Adobe Flash. It's highly speculated that the real reason Apple has a vendetta against Flash is because Flash applications can be just as feature-rich, interactive and animated as native iPhone applications. If Mobile Safari had a Flash player, nothing would stop people from creating web applications, that consist of a Flash object, that users could bookmark as Home Screen icons, that would be just as full-featured as native iPhone applications.
Similarly, Apple's latest developer agreement says you must originally write your app in C, C++ or Objective-C. Why did Apple decide to add this clause just now? Because Adobe's latest Flash beta includes the capability to export your Flash application into Objective-C code, which would enable one to basically use Adobe Flash to create iPhone applications.
Apple hates Flash for one reason: it directly competes with the app store and the native iPhone applications. If you could use Flash to create Objective-C code to author iPhone applications, Apple may lose some market share since Mac OS X is no longer required to create iPhone apps, among other things.
Anyway, this is where I stand on my views about Apple. Frankly, Apple is evil, in the sense of the term as it is used in Google's company slogan, "Don't be evil." Apple is this kind of evil.
So, I have no plans to ever own another closed Apple device, and would never consider developing an iPhone application. Nothing could be worse than spending weeks or months developing an application, only to have Apple dictate at the last minute that your app won't be allowed on the app store.
When I get an Android, I'll do Android app development. It has a plus of being Java-based. This means if I decided to make, say, a game, I could program the game once and then very trivially make many different ports of it: a desktop application, "full version" of the game; a Java applet, "try online before you download" light version of the game; and an Android application, "mobile version" of the game.
I know Apple fanboys like to google for anyone talking shit about Apple and I welcome the comments. I just know however from speaking with Apple fanboys I know in real life that they all were fully aware that Apple slows down their old devices (a co-worker fanboy has an iPhone 3G and agreed that it was slowed down with the 3.0 firmware). But, as expected of Apple fanboys, they try to justify it and defend Apple even though Apple is blatantly screwing them over and extorting them for as much money as possible. But by all means, post your comments anyway; entertain me with your blind dedication to Apple and how you believe they could do no wrong.
Because from where I stand, holding my iPhone 3G that takes 40 seconds to load the SMS app from a sleep state (and you 3G users know exactly what I'm talking about), Apple is doing nothing good here.