1 : to deprive of the use of a limb and especially a leg <the accident left him crippled>
2 : to deprive of capability for service or of strength, efficiency, or wholeness <an economy crippled by inflation>
This was taken from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.
As much as we like referring to Android personified (I mean, who doesn't love that little green guy), we should digress and use the 2nd referenced definition. Let's elaborate after the break.
Since I only need one counterexample to trump your argument, I'll go with the sideloading of applications. The SDK provided by Google allows for nknown sources within the Applications settings. There is a check box that states "Allow install of non-Market applications". It is noted that once you click on this check box to activate it you are prompted with a pop-up box stating:
Your phone and personal data are more vulnerable to attack by applications from unknown sources. You agree that you are solely responsible for any damage to your phone or loss of data that may result from using these applications.
It is then the user's discretion to click on "OK" or "Cancel."
This feature has been found in every Android device released until the Backflip. Since it is deactivated (whether by Motorola or AT&T is irrelevant, but I'd presume AT&T since there are other Motorola devices on other carriers with the allowable setting) and is considered an available option within the core operating system as set forth by the SDK, I would state that the Backflip is "deprived of capability for service or of strength, efficiency, or wholeness."
QED or something... it's crippled.
Now, this being said ... I don't think Phil is off base here (he just hears a lot more complaints via e-mail about this than we realize). The outpouring of cries over an entry-level device raises concern. The sideloading of applications can mean several different things for users; some like to install beta applications that aren't available through the Marketplace. Some corporations have built their own APK's for employees and need to distribute exclusively to them, and then some are using sideloading for nefarious reasons that would spawn an entirely different debate. Whatever the reason may be, if you are someone who requires sideloading, then the device isn't for you. There isn't an advertised document that it can sideload apps and therefore there isn't a false representation of the devices capabilities.
It's hard to believe that a company would have AT&T and develop an Android application that is a requirement for their employees to use considering it's their first Android phone. I think said company would most likely investigate the capabilities of the Backflip before doing anything like that. If you company isn't on AT&T and then you buying a phone for AT&T and claiming the application that works on T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, etc, but not on AT&T because of sideloading is a moot point. Either have your company buy you a phone that helps you do your job or go get a phone that can handle your plight...
The Backflip is marketed to TWEENS. Trying to make more over this phone is an exercise is futility. The majority of Tweens aren't going to be installing all kinds of crazy BETA apps. They will pop open the Marketplace and download a game or a Chuck Norris Fact app (ok, maybe that's me).
Is it crippled? Sure, without a doubt. Is it cause for a major meltdown? Erm, not so much. It's a decent first effort by AT&T to introduce Android to their masses. It's priced right, has a qwerty app, and does social networking fairly well. It will sell regardless of the sideloading issue.
For Real Now... QED.