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We call them crippled because they are!

In response to our fearless leader's momentary lapse of reason regarding the AT&T Backflip and its inability to load unsigned apps:

Main Entry: 3cripple

Function: transitive verb

Inflected Form(s): crip·pled; crip·pling \-p(ə-)liŋ\

Date: 14th century

1 : to deprive of the use of a limb and especially a leg (opens in new tab) <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 ( (opens in new tab)).

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.

  • Was "AT&Tack" intentional or a find and replace error?
  • Because nothing says intelligence like all caps and the word "ELEMET". This is why we need locked up phones people, not everyone using android is smart enough to not break things if you let them have access to everything.
  • Mr. Mulligan; Sir, that is one funny comment.( & true too)
  • So just because some people are dumb, we need to lock up all phones? This is the way of thinking that turns countries into nanny states. People learn from making mistakes and if they don't, they're just too dumb.
  • Yes, I believe there is enough evidence in recorded human history to show that mean and stupid people have screwed up the world; and we should do everything we can to suppress them. Now I'm not talking about plain old ignorance, because we are all born completely ignorant and our parents/guardians are responsible for educating us (and keeping us from screwing up too much along the way). However there are two classes of stupid that have been observed in mature homo sapiens (this appears to be equally distributed among the sexes and races) - sycophants and the intractably dumb. Sycophants, as their name implies, suck up to the mean people in an effort to keep from being victimized (aka "on the bottom"). The intractably dumb are those who either refuse to learn the truth (ostriches); or, those who know better, yet, refuse to do the right thing (idiots). The rest of society should make it their goal to prevent these people from causing problems by limiting their access to tools, heavy equipment, and anything that allows them to cause harm to others. This includes giving them only limited access to such sophisticated technology as an Android phone. Thank you AT&T for producing this socially responsible product, because God forbid we allow a fully-functional Android phone fall in the hands of a mean or stupid person. What a dark day that would be... Now, since I don't want to leave you on a down note, just imagine how nice it would be to drive without having to worry about dealing with mean and stupid people.
  • I don't see why this is an issue because you CAN install unsigned apps by using the ADB method. I've been doing it for some time now on this phone.
  • sigh there's no debate, this is annoying. and its not so much about unsigned beta apps. anyone who goes on youtube to see "best android games" compilations will come across videos that include sideload apps like Frets of Fire...that teenagers who like games, youtube, and guitar hero won't be able to get. It matters, it's crippled, deal.
  • plenty of games on top android game videos on youtube are sideload only teenagers like games and youtube argument invalid its crippled, can we drop this topic this website is being so annoying making a debate about a fact
  • Hence the reason they are both editorials. Chock full of opinions... breathe, life is gonna be okay. :)
  • "Your phone and personal data are more vulnerable to AT&Tack" :)
  • One point about this. It's mentioned that this decision was likely AT&T's and not Motorola's. However, it's still fair to say Motorola was complicit in this at any rate. Would a different handset manufacturer, like HTC, have told AT&T to take a flying leap? I'd like to think so.
  • They were complicit because the customer is always right. Unless you and your closest 300,000 friends are buying directly from Motorola, then AT&T is the boss. If they say they want all the phones to have a stock wallpaper of a dog taking a crap, guess what's stock wallpapers are going to be? Sprint asked Palm to nip WiFi from the Pixi (bone headed) and I bet if they told HTC to drop WiFi from the EVO it would happen just as easily. HTC sells to the carriers just as much as Moto does... the decision to lock down was entirely AT&T's.
  • This entire debate is really silly. Isn't any non-rooted phone "crippled"? I mean, there are always things you aren't going to be able to do with it. If you don't like the idea of something being "crippled", vote with your wallet, and don't buy one. Problem solved. If people buy the phone, they're saying "I have no problem with the state the phone is in, and choose to give you my money". This isn't that tough folks...if something sells, there's a market for it. If not, it goes away.
  • Know anything about Lunux/UNIX? The Root user is intended to be used only as needed. Normal operational of programs on Linux/UNUX box are run by non root uses unless absolutely necessary. By Rooting a phone you are actually hacking the phone and making it operate in an unintended way. Want an example? Log into a Linux box (or your rooted droid will do in a pinch) and execute the following SU -
    cd /
    rm -Rf * See what happens? No a non rooted device is not crippled. That's the normal intended state of operation...
  • $SU -
    $command not found
    $which SU
    $SU not found
    $which su
    # I spend too much time at slashdot lol
  • I like picture of the cat in the cast... Poor dumb thing...
  • I've been sideloading programs on my Backflip without any issues using ADB. Sideloading isn't the issue, it's loading apps you download directly on your phone. I'm frankly tired of seeing these posts - my Backflip is NOT crippled, it's perfectly functional, if somewhat badly customized. Also, why the heck doesn't your site have a mobile portal? I'm browsing it from my Backflp, and it's pretty horrible.
  • Now that I'm browsing from my laptop, I see that you have a mobile portal, it just doesn't automatically switch to it for phones (as does, for example, Probably ought to look into that.
  • Looks great on my Hero. ADB isn't for the faint of heart nor the casual cell phone user, but good to know for us techno guys. Makes my point of a company not being able to push a custom app to employees a moot point. But to say it's crippled or not is a matter of perspective. To each his own I suppose.
  • Well it really more "res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself rather than QED Quod erat demonstratum. And the backflop may not be crippled but uis pterry stange with the trackpad on the back of the screen.
  • It's more like the Frankenstein of phones...
  • Would it be possible to stop saying "after the break" doesn't that seem 2007?
  • Its ATT they probably dont want a phone with an OS that does more then that POS iphone that you have to hack to get as much function as a stock android phone.
  • Reasons why its crippled:
    New phone with old OS (1.5 or 1.6 can't remember which crappy one they stuck on there)
    Its on AT&T (while I know service may be better for some people on AT&T, the likelyhood of that happening is less)
    Its the same price as an IPhone 8GB 3GS... which is a much better phone than this POS.
    Useless design.
    God awful MOTOBLUR. I wish Motorola would just take that idea out back and shoot it down. Seriously, you can get better looking widgets in the market if you really have to know that Susy just facebooked that you are a dirty ho. So you can OMG LOL and STFU.
  • You all know you're just feeding into the fire right?
  • Burn baby burn! Let's keep that fire going.
  • This site looks fine on my Eris . And AT&T doesn't want a phone that kicks the iPhone's ass while they still have exclusivity. The freaking G1 beat the 3GS in 2008. Don't even mention the Nexus One around them.
  • I hate all you people. I am crippled and now feel like shit because you all think being crippled is shit.
  • Leave Phil alone! He's very busy and is allowed a lapse in reason! Seriously though people, use the handset that suits your needs. If your phone accomplishes the tasks that you require of it, then it's not crippled to you. That's why there are so many phones available. Some people only need a dumb phone, my wife for example, some need a super smart phone, some only need a middle of the road.
    The phone that does what you need it to do is the one for you, not everyone else. It all boils down to semantics and form factor. This is penis envy people. You phone looks prettier than mine, so even though my phone does exactly what I need it to do, I want your form factor that doesn't work for me, therefore I'm gonna flame the hell out of you on a public forum. Really?
  • You can root the backflip and install any app you want quite easily... thats the beauty of Android.
  • HUGE yawn.