AT&T's First Android Phone Doesn't Allow Non-Market Apps

Ryan Whitwam

So AT&T finally has their first Android phone, the Motorola Backflip. Whether or not you like the unusual design and Yahoo search (really?), it runs Android and it’s on AT&T. That by itself is remarkable. Now that the phone is available, users are finding yet another surprise that separates this from all the Android phones that came before it. It turns out that the option to allow apps from non-Android Market sources has been disabled .

It has long been held that obtaining apps from the Android Market was just a polite suggestion from Google. Users could get apps from various third-party stores and websites. Additionally, many beta apps are only distributed in this way. The reason for the change is currently unclear and no one is talking. This leaves the Backflip in much the same place the iPhone is, stuck with apps from only a single source, and in this case, a much smaller source.

AT&T has certainly had their way with Android here. Consider the removal of Google search, the addition of lots of AT&T bloatware, and now the locking down of app installs. This makes us wonder what AT&T’s Android strategy will look like. Will future Android handsets be similarly limited?

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