Closed Hardware, PDAs etc.

BoingBoing with a cautionary tale. When you buy a HipTop Sidekick from T-Mobile, you’re not really buying it in the way you’d imagine — instead, you get to hold it while they operate the software, as far as I can see. As of this week, T-Mobile are going to remotely erase the games that were included with the device, because they are ‘no longer supporting’ them. And tough luck to Sidekick owners.

As BB sez:

Who owns your Sidekick? T-Mobile does, apparently, even if you spent full retail on it (I dropped 250 dollars on mine). You need T-Mobile’s permission to install software on their device. T-Mobile will, from time to time, decide to erase software from your device. And when you stop subscribing to their service, T-Mobile will delete all your data forever, without giving you any mechanism for moving it off the device (and without giving you the ability to design a tool that would let you do this).

I don’t really get it — I mean, this is the reason Palm platforms won in the handheld arena for so long; the user’s control over what they can install, the developer’s freedom to write new apps for the users to install, and the (comparatively) open aspects of their SDK and protocols so that it can be sync’d to by lots of desktop apps.

Competing with all the other PDAs, based on hardware or UI alone, isn’t enough — unless you’re Apple with the iPod. Surely the Sidekick OS developers get this? (Maybe what happened is the OS developers get it — but T-Mobile don’t.)

Talking of the iPod — Gary Robinson notes that Pixo, the vendor of the OS software used on Apple’s iPods has just been bought — by Sun. It seems Pixo nowadays sells server-side Java thingies, which seems wierd for a developer of OSes for handheld platforms — until you read this article from January 2002, which reports that Apple and Pixo were at loggerheads anyway, due to contractual difficulties, and that Pixo had given up on embedded-OS work, due to a shortage of clients.

Anyway, I wonder if Apple got a licensing deal that gave them the source and allows them to update the Pixo OS themselves, if Sun decide to drop that product. (Given that Pixo themselves turned around and set the company in a totally oblique direction, I’d reckon it’s likely.)

Spam: Rod says the National Do Not Call Registry has launched. Sign up here — but wait a while first, it’s massively overloaded right now…

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