AT&T (s t) is constantly getting bashed about its network coverage and how it gets around anticipated shortages. The carrier’s network has been that of the iPhone (s aapl) in the U.S., and perhaps its relationship with Apple played a role in AT&T waiting longer than other carriers to get into the Android game. That is set to be rectified with its introduction of the Motorola Backflip (s mot), its first Android-based phone. The first AT&T Backflips are hitting reviewer’s hands, and a mind-boggling function of the “Google” phone has come to light. AT&T has removed Google search from this Android phone, and replaced it with Yahoo (s yhoo) search. As noted by engadget:
Yahoo has replaced Google as the default search provider throughout the phone. It’s crazy: the home screen widget, the browser, everything’s been programmed to use Yahoo.
It’s not unusual for carriers to work deals for specific software on its handsets. They take money wherever they can get it. But this deal is sure to confuse the customer, as Android phones are commonly called “Google phones.” Let’s face it, Google (s goog) makes Android, and one of its strengths is the tight integration with the company’s online services. And search is certainly one of Google’s big services, but not on the AT&T Backflip.
This is the equivalent of a Windows PC (s msft) hitting the market that has Internet Explorer removed and Safari as the only browser. Some customers might be happy by that but most would be confused. Then to make matter worse, imagine that Internet Explorer couldn’t be installed by the user to get around this major change. That seems to be the case with the AT&T Backflip, as early testers are reporting the inability to get Google search working in any of the Android programs.
There has been enough complaining about fragmentation in the Android space, so I won’t rehash that topic. But there is something so fundamentally wrong when an Android phone has Google search removed. And replaced by Yahoo search? I guess this makes the Backflip the Yahoo Phone.
Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):