Sure, PDANet gained acceptance on the Android Market. Thanks to how Android is built, open apps can’t be locked out of creation. A quarter-million downloads of PDANet off-market later, and Google told the carriers to stuff it.
Today’s events however are simply timed for comedic effect.
It was expected that Palm would sign on to Verizon’s planned effort to add mobile hotspot service as a $30/month billed feature today. Android phones on Verizon will gain the same feature later this year. But RIM chose to buck that trend, and offer TetherBerry on the RIM App World. The app was required to be re-branded simply as ‘Tether’ but is otherwise unchanged. And, unlike Verizon’s mobile hotspot initative, Tether has no monthly fees, a la PDANet.
This is significant as it is the first time a device manufacturer has offered, for sale, a one-time use app that enables tethering on their portal deck (the App World).
Thanks to the FCC’s Comcast/BitTorrent ruling, consumers do not need to purchase expensive tethering add-ons to tether… but carriers are not required to support, or even ensure such options are available on a device.
This enforces the need for devices to have open application standards, as jailbroken iPhones and Palm Pre/Pixi devices can enable the same tethering capacity. Palm supports homebrew and jailbreaking, even going so far as to thank the community for doing so today. And, of course, Windows Mobile and Symbian have offered similar options for years in native, open apps. This leaves Apple as the odd man out in both repelling jailbreaking, and not offering an open application distribution method.
In a world where wireless customers are taking advantage of the Comcast/BitTorrent ruling, RIM’s move today underlines that companies are starting to realize that their customers are indeed end-users, and not the carriers.