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Motorola nixes ‘walled garden’ phone patch

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Motorola has clamped down on a phone patch which unlocked the full capabilities of one of its smartphones. But there are no hard feelings from the recipient of the copyright notice, Marius Vincent, who blames British 3G operator 3 for crippling the A920.

The A920 is a smartphone with built-in GPS, web browser and Bluetooth that runs a wide range of Symbian UIQ applications (it's binary compatible with the popular Sony Ericsson P800). Only most of the features in that previous sentence are verboten by Hutchison in the UK.

Vincent posted a patch sourced from a public-spirited Motorola employee on a British website that allowed A920 owners to surf unrestricted, opened it to third-party applications, re-enabled Bluetooth and allowed the phone to roam on GSM/GPRS networks when the W-CDMA network. Only the patch is copyright Moto software, and Vincent had no right to distribute it, alas.

"No hard feelings for Motorola," Vincent told The Age.

Hutchison justifies crippling the capabilities of what is a very rich device, because it wants to incarcerate subscribers in a "walled garden", and would rather users spend time with the expensive outdoor water feature. However, early adopters are typically tech-savvy websurfers who want to use such advanced capabilities.

When the battle between closed content and open Internet took place in the mid-1990s, open networks won out in all but a few premium niche markets. Having spent billions of dollars on 3G licenses, building out the network, and paying for Premiership video rights, Hutchison isn't going to be happy with a niche. ®

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