One of the main highlights of Google's Android OS is the way it handles development. More precisely, how it allows developers to create anything without restrictions. This means consumers can download and install apps that are both on the Android Market and those available outside the Market, offering an open environment and limitless possibilities.
But as we already know, Apple doesn't allow this for the iPhone, iPod Touch, or the iPad. It's a closed environment, limiting development and customer options. Apparently AT&T is loving Apple's idea, and has locked its second Android-based smartphone, the HTC Aria--the Motorola Backflip was locked by AT&T back in May. For those of us that own Android-based phones, that's just plain sacrilege.
To AT&T's defense, cutting off the Android's support for non-Market apps (aka "unknown sources") means the wireless carrier is cracking down on app piracy. With unknown sources available, knowledge consumers can find and install "pirated" apps--those listed on the Android Market--on the Internet. With unknown sources removed, Android will not install unofficial apps, thus "locking" the OS from outside programs.
But with an OS lock-down, users may not be able to install legit apps from publishers choosing not to provide software on the Market--Gameloft and Sirius XM Satellite Radio are two prime examples. A lock-down also contradicts Google's overall "open platform" theme with Android.
Consumers looking for a pure Android device may just want to stick with carriers other than AT&T.