updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu March 24, 2011
ATT plans to allow Amazon Appstore on Android
AT&T has quietly posted a sign-up page confirming that it was hoping to get its Android users access to the Amazon Appstore. Subscribers are asked to name the model and provide an e-mail address for a notice of when access is opened up. The statement doesn't give an indication of how AT&T will solve the issue and isn't definite on timing beyond the "near future."
The carrier is uniquely hindered around the Amazon Appstore through its decision to block non-Market apps on its phones. AT&T has claimed that it wants the restriction for the sake of security. Combined with Google's ban on Market apps that are themselves stores, however, it leaves AT&T subscribers using carrier-locked and unmodified phones without access to the Appstore either in a native app or through the web.
AT&T could theoretically grant access by making special exemptions for apps loaded through an Amazon-supported domain or by rolling out firmware updates that include the Amazon store already installed and with special rights. The easiest solution for AT&T, however, would be to give the same access to non-Market apps as on unlocked phones or on those from all other networks.
Critics have often disputed Google VP Andy Rubin's claims that Android is open by using AT&T as an example. The search firm's unwillingness to stop carriers from imposing restrictions has sometimes left devices as closed or more than iPhones for the end user. Some Verizon phones, like the Samsung Fascinate, force users to use Bing as the search engine where an iPhone user can still choose Google or the now Bing-powered Yahoo.
An increasing number of HTC and Motorola devices have locked bootloaders as well and prevent customers from easily installing their own version of Android to get around restrictions. Only Google's official phones, the Nexus One and Nexus S, have guaranteed unlocked bootloaders.