Earlier in the week we reported that Google had cut tethering applications from the application store. Tethering applications allow users to hook their G1 up to another device such as a laptop, and use the data connection provided by the G1 as a modem for the laptop, thus providing it with the Internet. This has a few implications, not least of which is due to the fact that T-Mobile also provide wireless Internet based on a monthly subscription for laptops in markets such as the UK and USA. Allowing G1 owners to use their G1′s ‘unlimited web browsing’ for their laptop as well would effectively destroy a sector of T-Mobile’s business.
This stirred up a whole load of controversy, primarily because many users could potentially be using a G1 on a network that allowed this functionality. Not everyone who owns a G1 is on T-Mobile. Plenty could have purchased a G1 and legally unlocked it for use on another network. Many users found that this was dramatically unfair since there is no reason T-Mobile should have any say over how users of the G1 are affected that are not on the T-Mobile network.
Since then, Google has just announced that it will not be performing a blanket sweep removal of all tethering applications. This is demonstrated by a note to WiFi Tether for Root Users developer, stating “We inadvertently unpublished your application for all mobile providers; if you like, we can restore your app so that all Android Market users outside the T-Mobile US network will have access to your application”. It is worth nothing that this statement implies that T-Mobile UK G1 owners may be able to get hold of tethering apps, but common sense suggests that it will be unlikely.
It is somewhat of a shaky start for Google, as this is the one of the first tests they have had to face in the Application store which effectively calls into question the true ‘open’ nature of the Android OS. They may have succeeded for now, but their foot certainly faltered along the way.