If you’re a fan of high-powered smartphones it’s likely that you already know all about Nokia’s N900 (above), with it’s ability to install standard Debian packages from the command line. Or maybe it’s the Motorola DROID that gets your heart racing, with the prospect of hacking it with a custom ROM.
It’s great to see mobile devices running more open operating systems, but there’s another part of the equation that — at least in North America — is a real problem for innovation in the mobile space.
I’m talking about the carriers.
For whatever reason the culture here favours cheap subsidized handsets on multi-year contracts, which makes unlocked devices a hard sell. Here’s a video that Nokia produced specifically for the U.S. market:
Unfortunately it seems to have done little to sway prospective customers; Nokia has since announced that they’re closing their flagship retail stores in New York and Chicago.
There are some encouraging signs, though. In Canada (where I live) WIND Mobile has generated a lot of interest by offering unlimited voice and data plans without contracts. And there are at least two more carriers coming to market here in 2010!
So while I’l definitely be covering Android and Maemo-related news, I also feel obliged to preach the gospel of unlocked phones and contract-free carriers. This was the all-time most popular subject on a previous blog, after all…
So what’s your favourite mobile device? Have you either a carrier horror story or a sweet calling and data plan that you’d like to share? Leave a comment, and let’s start talking!