Google’s famously free-for-all Android Marketplace is blocking Verizon and other mobile customers from downloading tethering apps, which let users link their PCs to the Internet using smartphones or tablets, effectively turning these devices into mini-hotspots.
Et tu, Google? seems to be the general response. Observers expressed outrage at the move, given the search giant’s commitment to a free and open marketplace. But, as Computerworld’s JR Raphael explains, Google will honor carrier requests to block specific apps–if they violate the carrier’s terms of service, which users know about (or should) before they sign on. Tethering apps do violate those terms of service, especially since carriers may offer tethering as a separate service.
In any case, users who still want to tether for free still can, it just takes a couple more steps. It’s simple enough to download PDAnet or Wireless Tether, and then “sideload” either one onto an Android device.
And, as an anonymous commenter to Raphael’s post points out, it won’t matter soon enough. As tablets gain market share and functionality, users will care less about connecting their PCs to the Internet, and carriers will care less about preventing them from doing so.