AT&T has made their first foray into the Android smartphone market, and it looks to be rather depressing. The first phone is the Motorola Backflip, which itself is nothing special aside from the different design. However, from the looks of it as of now, AT&T doesn’t seem understand the full draw of Android to some users.
Part of the draw to Android is the fact that apps can easily be installed outside of the Market, unlike the iPhone which only allows apps from the App Store. This allows users to install apps that may not appear in the Market for a variety of reasons. The AT&T Backflip, however, seems to lack this functionality. This means there’s no chance of Backflip owners trying the beta of Swype right now, among other apps.
This might not make a huge difference to some users, surely not everyone with an Android smartphone is going to care about installing apps from anyplace but the Market. It does mean, however that there are some who would just as easily pass on AT&T Android phones if it continues. Surely this could be fixed with a firmware upgrade, so it might not be a huge issue after a while, but until it is fixed it gives users let another reason to not use AT&T. It if does continue, it makes the rumors of the HTC Desire going to AT&T even more depressing.