As Android reviewers and the hacking faithful are finding out this week, the Motorola Backflip on AT&T has been locked down a bit. Namely, you can't load apps from outside of the Android market. It's not just that the option is turned off, as it is by default on most (if not all) Android phones. It's that the option isn't even there on the backflip. [via MobileCrunch]
And so what?
The Backflip is a Motoblur device. That is, it's got an operating system that's heavily skinned for social network aggregation and isn't really meant to be a phone nerd's dream device. And if AT&T wants to take out an option that could potentially open up the phone to trouble, then so be it. I'm willing to bet that 95 percent of the people who buy the Backflip don't even know what sideloading is, let alone care to do it. So what if they can't load beta apps. You think they care about using the PDANet app that MobileCrunch uses as an example? If you're buying this phone, you're doing so because you want easy access to Twitter, Facebook and the like, and you want that crazy keyboard, and Android, and that's it.
So, yeah, AT&T took out some functionality. It's allowed to. (Oh, and by the way, it has nothing to do with the iPhone. At all.) If you need to sideload that badly, chances are you're not going to be buying this phone in the first place.
We never like seeing a carrier or manufacturer strip functionality from the phone. But to the typical Backflip (and Motoblur) user, it's a non-issue in this case.
Update: OK, except for when you take into account Engadget's interview with AT&T exec Ralph de la Vega a year ago. Oopsie, pal.
Update 2: Android and Me points out that you can sideload over ADB. Which proves our point even more.