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AU Mobile Operator Optus Blocking Paid Android Apps 102

Posted by kdawson
from the life-without-net-neutrality dept.
APC Magazine details how Optus, an Australian mobile phone operator, has for months been deliberately blocking access to Android paid apps. "Optus is the exclusive Australian mobile carrier for the HTC Dream and Samsung Galaxy Android phones, and yet people who signed a long-term contract for these phones have to date been blocked from buying paid Android apps and getting the full Android experience. ... APC found many angry and frustrated comments on the Whirlpool community forums by Optus & Virgin Mobile customers." The article speculates, reading between the lines of the opaque comments offered by both Optus and Google, that the carrier is "demanding a cut of the sales revenue from Android apps if it is to remove its restriction on accessing them."
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AU Mobile Operator Optus Blocking Paid Android Apps

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  • by jaxtherat (1165473) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:54AM (#30294718) Homepage

    Seriously. I've ditched Optus around about 1998, and haven't looked back. Vodafone care a heck of a lot more about their customers; for example, they're just about the only telco I know of that allows tethering on the iPhone. Very handy!

    My point is, does anyone expect anything else from the likes of Floptus and Telescum?

  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:25AM (#30294832)

    I bet I know who wins this battle.

    For an Australian phone company only one thing can haemorrhage money faster then negative publicity and that's a visit from the ACCC.

    The question is does the ACCC think this is worth their time.

    born of its original monopoly status.

    Telstra was the monopoly, born of Telecom Australia when it was privatised in the 90's. Optus was the first new, entirely private telco, Optus is majority owned by Singtel (Singapore). Our government, when privatising our telecommunication infrastructure had the wisdom and foresight to put in place good regulation to prevent a US style balkanisation.

    Not withstanding that there are only three mobile network providers in Australia, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone/Hutchinson Australia. All others are MNVO's and/or subsidiaries using one of the three networks, on the plus side I can get access to all three networks in all major population area's and Australian telco regulations allow me to roam for no cost (calls and texts only).

    I believe they shall find that their customer's have more power

    We've always had a good measure of power, via the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) but the TIO's mandate is they can only act on violations of regulations, codes/standards of practice, laws or terms of service/contacts. It's a black cheque that says to the telco's if you screw with your customers we'll screw with you and good.

    It won't look good to the Board of Directors when customers flee to the competition in droves the minute their contracts are up.

    Up until Voda/Three released the Magic, the majority of Android handsets came in from overseas using our grey import laws. A lot of them still do given the strength of the AUD vs the EUR and GBP.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @04:30AM (#30294858)

    So this is different from how you can't get paid apps from the Android Market in Canada,

    Ask to your telco, of the three networks in Australia (Telstra, Optus and VHA) only Optus users have this problem. People who bought an Android phone outright or from Vodafone and Three (Vodafone/Hutchinson Australia or VHA) and do not use the Optus network can access paid applications. The Optus network includes some MNVO's and their subsidiary Virgin.

  • Re:Wifi? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unfunk (804468) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:04AM (#30295004) Journal
    No. You need a valid SIM in your phone to access the market, and as far as I can tell (with my HTC Magic on Virgin), you can only download apps over 3G. You can queue them up over WiFi, but I've never seen an app start downloading until I've disconnected from WiFi.
  • Breach of contract (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcvos (645701) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:14AM (#30295038)

    I don't know what kind of contract the Optus victims customers have, but if I got an Android phone through Optus and they're intentionally blocking Android services, then I'd definitely consider that breach of contract. In form them of that, get a new sim-only contract elsewhere, and stop paying the old contract.

    Or sue them. This sounds deserving of a class action suit.

  • Re:Seriously, WTF? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @07:16AM (#30295606) Homepage

    "What can the Australian populace do about this sort of predatory behaviour?"

    Simple. Complain to the ACCC about third-line forcing.

  • Fuck Optus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shplorb (24647) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @08:51AM (#30296130) Homepage Journal

    Optus turned to shit when earlier this year they unilaterally decided to start charging $2.20 to mail their bills under the guise of "being green".

    Not even the banks I have accounts with are crooked enough to charge for mailing statements.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:29PM (#30298422)

    But they cannot call it an andriod phone without Google giving permission.

    Funny enough, I don't see Android phones for sale. I see phones called HTC Dream, HTC Hero, Motorola Droid, etc. So it looks like it's never been a problem - at best, these phones may say "HTC Dream with Google", but other than maybe the Android logo (#1/#2 usage, which isn't covered under the Google branding), that's it.

    Sure it runs the Android OS, but they don't advertise that fact. Just like you don't see phones advertised as Windows Mobile - they always have a product. Like Android phones, they run Windows Mobile, but it tends to just be a spec-sheet item. Hell, I suppose a carrier could demand that the Android phone be completely locked down (i.e., no apps can be installed, period) if they wanted.

    And like Windows Mobile, carrier requirements can't be bypassed - if the carrier doesn't want something, it goes or they won't sell it. Luckily, being GSM, it doesn't exclude the possibility of someone importing their own phone and using it.

    The only manufacturer who gets to bypass most requirements is Apple. And the only reason the carriers acquiesce to Apple's demands is because of demand. Customers wanted it, and they're not afraid to import it themselves if they can't get it. That, and Apple knows most demands are crap, are calling it crap, and refusing to follow them.

    The only reason Android is "better" is that it's open source. But unless someone creates something that people want badly, it'll be gimped as much as needed to satisfy the carriers.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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