The smartphone wars: a cautious cheer for T-Mobile

T-Mobile announced the G-2 yesterday. They were, of course, the first carrier to ship an Android phone when they released the G-1 back in 2008. I think this announcement signals yet another phase change in the smartphone wars, in which carriers begin to back off the proprietary skins that have disfigured recent Android releases.

Press coverage has it that the G-2 is an HTC device and will run a vanilla, un-skinned 2.2. The hardware news is unsurprising; the G-1 was an HTC Dream, and an excellent fit for purpose. Rumor all along has been that the G-2 would be a branded variant of the HTC Magic.

Vanilla 2.2 bucks a recent and unhappy trend of carrier devices running down-version Android with heavy skinning and (often) lockout of much-desired features like tethering. I predicted this trend wouldn’t last as customers caught wise and began to vote with their feet, and the G-2 is significant because it gives them a major-carrier device to run to. Inevitably, the G-2 will increase market pressure against skinning.

On that account, here’s a cautious cheer for T-Mobile. My wife and I became T-mobile users to get the G-1, and it must be said that they’ve they’ve been notably non-unpleasant by carrier standards. Coincidentally, we reached the point of needing to decide whether to re-up with them in the week just before the announcement, and swiftly agreed it was a no-brainer. Their coverage meets our needs and their rates aren’t silly. They get additional points for two things: (1) It wasn’t difficult to get them to unlock my G-1, policy is that any customer in good standing can have that after 90 days and (2) when I got my Nexus One the service rep I talked with not only didn’t give me crap about changing phones on a plan designated “G-1″, he sounded frankly envious that I’d gotten an N1 to play with.

Yes, you’re catching my implication correctly; I actually like my cell carrier. T-Mobile still pulls crap like charging mucho bucks for SMS when the incremental cost of the service to them is zero, but compared to the sleazy control-freak moves their competition routinely gets up to they’re actually pretty nice.

The personal report has a larger point lurking in it. When you’re the number 4 carrier, perpetually derided as playing catch-up and scrambling for market share, one of the ways you can compete is by – gasp – not treating your customers like shit. And not actively crippling the devices you ship. This seems to be the route T-Mobile is going.

There are features of the evolving smartphone market that are pushing in this direction, anyway. One is the increasing release tempo, driven by the number of handset manufacturers who want to get in on the action. Symbolically, Nokia just sacked its CEO; as one of my commenters correctly noted, “No doubt this is a direct result from the failure to compete in the US smartphone market”. They’re going to be trying harder. This means that time to market is going to become an ever more pressing issue for new hardware rollouts, increasing the opportunity cost of vendor skinning.

Sure, the vendors can try to put the brakes on the hardware-release tempo. But unless they actively collude it’s not going to happen – there’s too much marketing advantage to being first to hit the street with sexy new hardware, as we’ve seen for example with the EVO 4G, and the handset vendors will be upping the tempo in response to competition in their market. As product cycles shorten, increasing deadline pressure on the Android porting process means vendor customization costs are going to rocket, negating a significant part of Android’s cost advantage.

We can be very specific about the issues with vendor skins. Their only advantage to customers is in the opportunity to improve stock Android’s user interface, which is a weak justification because it doesn’t actually suck to begin with. The problem is that they function mainly as cover for various forms of carrier control. In increasing order of annoyance, we can list (1) obtrusive branding, (2) uninstallable advertising/crapware paid for by business partners, (3) hijacking of the app store, and (4) data-usage caps, especially disabling of tethering and WiFi hotspot features.

Customers are bound to notice what a shitty deal this is, creating a marketing opportunity for a carrier that’s willing not to play these games. The true significance of the G-2 announcement is that by trumpeting stock Android 2.2, T-Mobile is kicking its competitors right where it will hurt and shortening the lifetime of the skin-your-phones-skin-your-customers strategy. As I’ve previously noted, I think Google is counting on this dynamic.

If carrier skins actually functioned as effective differentiators they’d be better able to justify their increasing opportunity costs. But the carriers’ own marketing suggests they’re not – notice how hardware-focused their new-product pitches are? One suspects that various attempts to hype their custom interfaces didn’t survive focus-group testing, and no wonder when they mainly subtract value rather than adding it.

In sum, I predict that the smartphone wars are about to enter phase three. Phase one began with the Android launch and was dominated by a face-off with Apple iOS that Android won, rocketing past it in U.S. market share and reaching global market-share parity (soon to be dominance). The theme of phase two, which began a few months before the Nexus One was canned off Google’s web store, was increasing attempts by carriers to stuff the Android genie back in the bottle by skinning.

Phase three begins with the G-2 launch and will feature an accelerating collapse of carrier attempts to control and corral Android. They’ll be ended by customer pushback and time-to-market pressures on product development. This will throw the carriers into the exact kind of competition they most want to avoid – directly on price and quality of network provisioning. Bad news for them, but great news for everyone else.

35 thoughts on “The smartphone wars: a cautious cheer for T-Mobile

  1. What I want, and what will get me to terminate my Verizon contract in order to get it, is a new carrier-supported phone with N1-style “touch here to void your warranty” bootloader unlocking. I’m not interested in playing the cat-and-mouse game with carriers of finding exploits to get around whatever DRM they implement.

  2. I definitely agree with your praises for T-Mobile’s customer service. I wanted to get a Verizon Droid when they were released, but I didn’t want to leave T-Mobile, so I bought an unlocked Motorola Milestone (the non-US GSM version of the Droid) instead just so that I could stay with them.

  3. This announcement just makes me want to whine …

    T-Mobile has, as best I can tell, no presence* whatsoever outside major metro areas.

    Is this ever going to change? Or will be forever be stuck with the buddy-boy non-competitors AT&T-Verizon?

    * By this I mean high speed data coverage. Voice and low speed data is assumed.

  4. @Daniel Franke

    HTC and Samsung phones are almost that easy. Many of the HTC phones (including the Droid Incredible on Verizon) are all super-easy to root. Samsung Galaxy S phones require a little more wierdness, but it only took me about 5 minutes to unlock my Captivate (ATT) after I read the tutorial and downloaded the hacked update.zip. The SIM unlock, once discovered, was ridiculously easy — I downloaded a zip file from XDA-developers, plugged my phone in to my PC, and ran a shell script, and that got me the unlock code.

    Motorola phones are difficult. They actually care about locking the phones down for some reason, whereas Samsung and HTC only give nominal protection against it at the carriers behest.

    And seriously, get a G2 or N1 — the latter is a great phone, and the former probably will be. They’re both targeting developers. Or get a Galaxy S or any HTC phone, and spend 5 minutes to get root, and install Rom Manager from the app store, and you’re good to go.

    The one feature that would make me consider a G2 is if it supported 850/1900mhz in addition to AWS. T-Mobile is just crap signal-wise in my section of Jersey (predominantly, Essex and Morris counties). I’m with AT&T, who actually has really good signal here (though since it’s almost exclusively 1900mhz, 3G doesn’t work so well in basements/elevators).

  5. I wish there was a way to convince the manufacturers/carriers that user really, really want stock Android. Okay, sure, play around with the color palette and put nifty custom wallpaper and ringers to match your branding — whatever.

    Alternatively, have an option buried deep within the settings saying, effectively “remove vendor specific crap and use the stock Android stuff”, and have it work. That would make me very happy — a vanilla Froyo install on top of which to start building.

    Actually, that would be an interesting Android app idea — Decrappifier. It would require root access, have profiles for the different phone models knowing what packages are safe to remove. It would have four functions:

    1) backup whole system to SD card (in case something goes wrong)
    2) restore from backup
    3) install all stock Android components
    4) remove all vendor/carrier specific skin related stuff and bloatware

    I’ve been tinkering with writing Android apps of late, but I’m far from an expert. I also certainly don’t have enough free time to do this alone. Anyone interested in collaborating on a project like this? Even if it’s rejected from the market, we could still make the .apk available for download.

  6. My experience with Android on the Hero was part of the reason why I deemed it to be nowhere near an iPhone competitor. The UI was slow and laggy enough to render it frustrating to use as a MID, and almost unusable as a phone. It had HTC Sense and some NASCAR garbage loaded on by Sprint that you can’t remove. Yes, Sprint, we get it. Sprint Cup. you’re really into car racing. That doesn’t mean everyone in your customer base is.

    Since obliterating the Sprint-issue install and putting DarchStar’s stuff on there (including froyo) it has run so much better. It’s still no iPhone, but it’s very usable. Replica Island (a little open-source platform game) now runs without any visible lag or frame jitter.

    A big advantage of the iPhone is that the Apple brand name is so synonymous with coolness and innovation that AT&T stood to lose a lot of face by fucking with the Apple image. That gave Apple a lot of clout that other cellphone OS providers just don’t have; and, if anything, the trend among carriers of moving away from crudware-laden “value-adds” is mainly Apple’s doing, not Google’s. Imagine a world with Android but no iPhone: would Android devices have come with Norton Mobile Security and free AOL Trial Edition?

    Sprint is arguably the least evil of the major providers today. For what I was paying for voice only with AT&T I get voice + “unlimited” data + “unlimited” SMS. In other words, for what I was paying to use some features of my AT&T feature phone, I get a smartphone and the ability to use all its functionality. Except tethering. But, there are ways around that… /trollface

  7. >Actually, that would be an interesting Android app idea — Decrappifier.

    That’s a really, really good idea. Enough to tempt me to learn Android if I weren’t overcommitted already.

  8. FWIW, I got my first Android phone recently, a Galaxy S. I have been very impressed with it. I am also a TMo customer, and have been for years. I have always found them to be great. I never have signal problems, even in deep dark buildings. The phone is amazingly fast, no lag at all. The graphics on it are actually pretty amazing. From what I read it has a polygon rendering speed like three times faster than its nearest competitor. TMo includes a copy of Avatar with every phone, and once I got past my gag reaction to the eco-crappy bs subject matter, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the screen. Sorry retina display, you just can’t match.

    For me the killer feature though is Swype. I am sure there is a version for the iPhone, but I am blown away how effective this little keyboard app is. I can type much faster on it than I could on the “real” keyboard phone I had before, and more importantly I can do it holding the phone in one hand entering text with my thumb. I haven’t yet timed it, but I bet I can type close to 15wpm one handed with this thing, and I am a newbie.

    The one thing I will say is that error correction is a little weak on swype, I wish they have included cursor keys.

  9. Oh, btw, one other complaint. This blog doesn’t look great on a phone. For some reason it has a really narrow central column and big chunks of whitespace to the left and right. I can read it, but there is a lot of wasted space on the screen. Not malice intended, just a thought for when you have a free minute to fix it. A quick look indicates that the .widecolumn style at style.css:257 has a huge left margin of 150px, which might be suitable for desktop, but isn’t so hot for phones.

  10. This development does not convince me yet to rescind my analysis that the network access oligarchy is resistant to customer choice unless the granularity of that choice is beyond the oligarchy’s capacity to control, because when a minor player such as Tmobile grows to compete in network capitalization then it too will have the same incentive to suppress customer choice in favor of incremental revenue. Afaik, Dell didn’t load their computers with incremental crapware revenue schemes when they were small. The key economic metric that sustains an oligarchy is the massive capital barrier to competition. Apparently, Sprint has unlimited data, messaging, and talk for $70 (does that exclude WiFi tethering?) compared to Tmobile’s $60 (which includes unlimited hotspot), but Sprint’s fast 3G network is on every major interstate and minor city, whereas Tmobile’s fast data is only in some major cities. Although I haven’t been in USA since 2006, I bet WiFi is not a significantly mainstream priority. An oligarchy’s goal is to control the mainstream uses and swallow the niches as they move mainstream.

    I have summarized a imo very insightful article from Peter Thiel (Paypal founder), which imho basically says that fiat is becoming increasingly detached from true capital (money !== capital) and points towards my termite theory of how good globalization will play out.

  11. The first carrier who gives access to whoever with whatever, and allows them to download X without trying to sell ring-tones+BS will rule.

    flat rate/speed ?

    obvious?

  12. Bugger T-Mobile.

    My cousin went to work for them as a “customer service rep” (phone drone).

    Their system is to hire a “probationary” employee at minimum wage, with the promise of higher wages and full benefits after six months of satisfactory performance.

    But after four months or so, the managers ramp up performance quotas to impossible levels, harass the worker over every perceptible flaw, and make sure to fire him before six months. No one ever actually becomes a permanent employee.

    This isn’t just hard dealing – it’s deliberate fraud.

  13. @Rich Rostrom
    > This isn’t just hard dealing – it’s deliberate fraud

    OT: Perhaps that is off-topic (?), because all the carriers are lowering costs. Those (most) Americans who don’t develop needed skills that can’t be done by one of the billions in the developing world, will be taken down with the coming implosion of the old order. AT&T is outsourcing internet service technical support for several USA states to Philippines and paying $350 – $400 per month, including travel and food allowance, which is about 2 – 3 times the typical salary here. Apparently they increased the salaries here, decreased the shifts from 12 to 8 hours, and lowered the college degree requirement, in order to attract enough trainees, because Filipinos are emotionally incompatible with jobs that isolate them from interaction with their co-workers (culture). Training was instituted to teach that “customer is always right” culture of Americans in order to increase tolerance for the depressing work of interfacing with that culture. In Asian (or at least Filipino) culture, when you attack the company, you also personally attacking the employee. You will get a complete shutdown in communication with an untrained Filipino if you have any tone that is not sweet.

    I roughly figure that given that in the USA at $10 per hour with full benefits, higher facilities and insurance overhead, AT&T can hire on the order of 7 – 10 Filipinos for the price of one American support rep. Some Filipinos speak English well enough that you wouldn’t be able to detect if they are in California, unlike the hard accent (e.g. “womit”) of the Indians.

  14. >This isn’t just hard dealing – it’s deliberate fraud.

    Accepting your report, it’s a relevant question whether any other carriers screw their support staff less. I rather suspect not; the economics of the situation are, as Jocelyn has sort of pointed out, innately vicious.

    Because support is a cost center generating zero revenue, pressure to minimize costs is always going to be stronger than it would be in areas that are perceived as profit generators. Because the job can be done by people who accept a minimum wage, that’s how it will be done; choosing otherwise would be inefficient, and making inefficient choices is how you mis-allocate capital and go out of business.

    Don’t mistake me; I’m not excusing T-Mobile for fraud, I’m just doubting that switching to another carrier would decrease the total volume of fraud.

  15. The G2 seems like a good phone. But here in Denver and the surrounding areas, t-mobile just doesn’t have a good G3 network.

    Now that everyone where I work is getting an Android based phone, I can easily compare networks. It goes something like this:

    “I can’t get G3 connectivity here, can you?”
    (checks) “Yep, 4 bars.”

    To me, it doesn’t matter how unlocked the device is if you can’t get a good data connection. And I’m willing to root the device anyway.

  16. Rich Rostrom Says:
    > My cousin went to work for them as a “customer service rep” (phone drone).

    “Phone drone” — Interesting description.

    > Their system is to hire a “probationary” employee at minimum wage, with
    > the promise of higher wages and full benefits after six months of satisfactory
    > performance.

    Was this promise in writing? Which state? Is it a legally enforceable promise?

    > But after four months or so, the managers ramp up performance quotas to
    > impossible levels, harass the worker over every perceptible flaw, and make
    > sure to fire him before six months. No one ever actually becomes a
    > permanent employee.

    So are you claiming that TMobile doesn’t have any permanent employees? If what you say is true, and they really made such a promise, then your cousin might have a lawsuit. If TMobile does it systematically, an ambulance chaser will be happy to take on a class action and make a lot of money for the esteemed legal profession, and a few dollars for ex-TMobile employees.

    If she was made a legally enforceable promise, then her employee should fulfill that promise, or compensate her. If she was made a promise and made decisions based on that promise, but didn’t get it in an enforceable form, then she has just had the benefit of a great life lesson.

    However, if your cousin is, as you say, a “phone drone” which is to say a very low skill worker, why do you expect her employer to treat her as a high skill worker? The way to secure a job is to be valuable. If you behave as a fungible line worker, you shouldn’t expect to be treated as better than a fungible line worker.

    Which is to say, if you are a low skill worker, you should be focused on two things: doing the best low skill job you can so that you are the best low skill worker, and second acquiring some valuable skills so that you aren’t a low skill worker any more.

    If your cousin had really rocked at her job, I doubt very much they would have cut her. If your cousin had gone to college, or learned web programming, or became an expert at selling tupperware, or learned to cut hair, or started a dog walking business, of for that matter learned some new skills in the business she was in, in the four months she worked there, she would be very much better off today.

    People here have in the past accused me of being heartless. But this isn’t heartless, it is simply telling the truth. Demanding that employers treat employees better than their skill level warrants is just another burden on top of the minimum wage. Which is to say, it causes unemployment amongst the very people who need employment the most. Which is to say it is trading narrow visible compassion for broad based, invisible compassion. True compassion is to arrange society in such a way that people can succeed on their own merits (and help the truly destitute.)

  17. @Jessica Boxer — I highly, highly recommend the app “RyanZA’s One Click Lag Fix”. It’s a Galaxy S only thing. One click to root the phone, another to install ext2tools, another to repartition your system storage and reformat as ext2. Samsung’s proprietary RFS slows the system down considerably. It’s most noticeable in the Market and apps that access/sync a lot of small pieces of data. I did this today, and the lag is completely gone. It’s like having a brand new faster phone!

    The XDA-developer android community is amazing. They fixed everything Samsung screwed up with the phone (except the buggy GPS), and made it super-easy.

  18. > one of the ways you can compete is by – gasp – not treating your customers like shit. And not actively crippling the devices you ship.

    This sounds like wishful thinking to me. Not because I think that you’re wrong – quite contrary – because I actually with to think the same way :)

    Ok, back to reality, let me propose simple test.

    According GSM 11.11 (10.3.18 EFAD) sim card can instruct your phone to disable indication when even crappy gsm ciphering is turned on.

    Many commercial phones do not indicate anything even if sim allow it.

    When I will see some configuration option which allow ME to decide weather I would like to override this sim parameter – when I will believe that I’m treated as a human being.

  19. Jessica Boxer:

    “I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it.” – Ben Franklin

    Not exactly what you said, but the same sentiment. I’d say you’re in good company and not the least heartless or cruel.

  20. @esr:

    Accepting your report, it’s a relevant question whether any other carriers screw their support staff less. I rather suspect not; the economics of the situation are, as Jocelyn has sort of pointed out, innately vicious.

    I don’t have reliable reports out of the carriers, but I do know that Rich Rostrum’s report is pretty common practice in a lot of phone drone shops. Something very similar happened to my step-son when he went to work for Stream, one of Dell’s phone drone contractors. It does seem, however, that they do keep some, but they take only the cream of the crop: those that manage to make it through the vetting out process.

    Furthermore, drawing on my experiences working in IT for a telemarketing firm, similar practices exist there as well. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that many phone drone shops started out or were started by people who started out in telemarketing. Their business practices are very, very similar.

  21. I watched a call center routinely purge anyone who was getting close to 27 months of tenure, because at 27 months, that employee wasn’t going to get any better at their job, but they were due to get a pay raise from $11/hour to $17/hour.

    This was in a call center where the mean employment time was about 9 months – 3 months on probation, a first pay raise after 6 months post probation, a second pay raise at 12 months post probation, and a third (significant) pay raise at 24 months post probation.

    The way the rules and regulations were documented and arbitrarily enforced meant that they could go through the ‘three warnings on record and terminate for cause’ with trivial ease.

  22. ESR: please delete above comment with unclosed tag…
    Jessica Boxer Says:
    >
    > Rich Rostrom Says:
    >
    > > Their system is to hire a “probationary” employee at minimum
    > > wage, with the promise of higher wages and full benefits
    > > after six months of satisfactory performance.
    >
    > Was this promise in writing?

    Of course.

    > Which state?

    NM

    > Is it a legally enforceable promise?

    Sort of. The promise is enforceable against T-Mobile if T-Mobile acknowledges “satisfactory performance” by the employee. Since that judgment is, practically speaking, subjective, enforcement is dependent on T-Mobile acting in good faith.

    > So are you claiming that TMobile doesn’t have any permanent employees?

    Not as customer service reps.

    > If what you say is true, and they really made such
    > a promise, then your cousin might have a lawsuit.

    If she could afford to hire a lawyer, she wouldn’t
    be taking minimum wage jobs.

    > If TMobile does it systematically, an ambulance
    > chaser will be happy to take on a class action…

    No class action lies, because the excuse for firing is different for each employee, and some employees were fired for genuine cause. One would have to prove that T-Mobile had such a policy, and that each employee in the class was fired without proper cause.

    > If she was made a promise and made
    > decisions based on that promise…

    Such as working hard.

    > but didn’t get it
    > in an enforceable form, then she has just had the
    > benefit of a great life lesson.

    And the lesson is that T-Mobile are lying crooks.

    > However, if your cousin is, as you say, a “phone
    > drone” which is to say a very low skill worker,
    > why do you expect her employer to treat her as a
    > high skill worker?

    I expect an employer to treat an employee as they say they are going to. Or do you think honesty is wasted on the lower classes?

  23. @Rich Rostrom
    > I expect an employer to treat an employee as they say they are going to. Or do you think honesty is wasted on the lower classes?

    You have conflicting expectations.

    Promises, insurance, and contracts are innately dishonest, because no human controls the future. Freedom and prosperity is the result of maximizing entropy, which is the antithesis of (the illusion of) control, aka good globalization.

    Pay daily or immediately when the work is rendered, do not promise to pay in the future for work performed today.

    Knowledge (training) in the information economy means the employee owns his capital (it travels with its owner), and this trumps any other form of money (abstract store of capital). In short, knowledge is the new money (but not yet a currency, but I have an idea about changing that).

    The most honesty is for your cousin to face up to his/her options today and choose the wisest direction, not the innately dishonest one. We humans trap ourselves because we (especially westerners) believe in the fantasy of control and planned outcomes. Sorry to say, your cousin has no one to blame but him/herself. I say that out of empathy hoping to suggest a better outcome, not to be callous.

  24. It is interesting, however, that the marketing departement of T-Mobile in other countries (like Germany) is actually skinning their cell phones. So, if they learned in the US to not do it, why do they handle other countries so much differently. And then there is the difference between carrier skinning and producer skinning (like HTC skins its phones with HTC Sense).

  25. >So, if [T-Mobile] learned in the US to not do it, why do they handle other countries so much differently.

    That is a very interesting question.

    I’m going to guess that in the countries where T-Mobile is skinning phones they’re not in the position of scrambling for market share from a weak third or fourth place. You cite Germany which I think supports this guess – as the former Deutsche Telekomm I’m guessing they’re the #1 or at worst #2 player.

    The logic runs like this: If you’re #4, trading away lock-down capability to gain market share may look like a really good idea. If you’re #1, not so much.

  26. @Max:

    Have to agree with esr here. Having worked for a handful of multinationals, I can tell you that most of them compartmentalize their marketing into regions, much the way esr describes. Usually, the world is divided up marketing-wise into (roughly) North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, Asia, and Oceania. Differing parts of the world are viewed as requiring differing market strategies; so it’s not unusual for someone like T-Mobile to have very different strategies in different parts of the world.

    In the U.S., T-Mobile has a relatively small piece of the market compared to the two giants, Verizon and AT&T. In many areas of the States, those last two are your only choices. In Europe, especially Germany, they’re a much more dominant force.

  27. # Rich Rostrom Says:
    >I expect an employer to treat an employee as they
    > say they are going to. Or do you think honesty is
    > wasted on the lower classes?

    Don’t know where the “lower classes” comment came from, I have a lot of respect for people who take low skill jobs and pull themselves up by the bootstraps. (People who stay in minimum wage jobs for ten years though? Not so much.) However, yes, I think it is absolutely reasonable to demand that employers follow their contract obligations. You are however, mistaken about class action lawsuits. If there is a demonstrable pattern of TMo doing this, regardless of the pretext they may have been terminated, and there is some legal agreement to maintain them, then a class could certainly be formed. The whole point of a class is that every individual plaintiff doesn’t need to make an individual case. I’d say if your claim that they have no permanent employees, and your claim that they made certain promises and representations in writing were true, then there is undoubtedly enough for a pattern based class action lawsuit. However, I’m not a lawyer, and the law is different in different states. If the facts are as you stated in the entirety, there are certainly no win no pay lawyers that would jump all over it. Happens all the time. However, no doubt the lawyers will end up much richer than the plaintiffs, such is the disgrace of our legal system.

  28. @Jessica Boxer
    > no doubt the lawyers will end up much richer than the plaintiffs, such is the disgrace of our legal system

    Failure and socialism is the iron-law result of predicting the future (futures, contracts, insurance, promises, surety, etc)– the antithesis of free market law which propagates in real-time.

    Society makes laws against that which can not be controlled, in order to steal from evolution’s optimum diversity. Thanks to Coase’s theorem, such failure cannibalizes itself.

  29. T-Mobiles is actually the mobile communications part of Deutsche Telekom, which is the former national post monopoly. This means that T-Mobile in Europe is the remnant of a former government bureaucracy, with the typical consequences. In Germany the are called the “Tele-Komiker” for their often shown incompetence.

  30. “This means that T-Mobile in Europe is the remnant of a former government bureaucracy, with the typical consequences.”

    And buying up even more incompetent former-government telecoms in the post-communist countries, which raises all sorts of interesting speculations like whether a dense enough concentration of stupid could form something sort of a black hole :) Learning that the American branch is doing better and smarter is a bit surprising, but actually not very much so, multinational corporations aren’t always very centralized, and a well-selected subsidiary management can often maintain lots of independence from the HQ as long as they are delivering results. Plus it is difficult for people whose cultural attitude is conformity to group norms to boss people with more individualistic cultural norms around.

  31. > Yes, you’re catching my implication correctly; I actually like my cell carrier.

    I just got my G2 today.
    T-Mobile stripped out the tethering and hot-spot options.

    I still have my G1.
    How hard was installing Cyanogen?

  32. >T-Mobile stripped out the tethering and hot-spot options.

    Oh, that sucks. Guess I won’t be buying one. Guess I’ll be writing T-Mobile a nastygram about this.

    If you’re not going to use your G-1. consider sending it to the CynogenMOD guys, having test hardware would certainly speed up the port.

    >How hard was installing Cyanogen?

    Pretty easy, actually. And easier yet since I improved the instructions while I was doing it :-)

  33. Update:
    The latest firmware upgrade from t-mobile/htc put the tethering and hotspot features back. It broke the SD card drivers and Android market but hopefully there will be a followup to fix those things soon.
    You may cautiously cheer for T-Mobile, once again.

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