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Palm politely cuts Pre tether

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Palm has requested that the Pre Dev Wiki refrain from discussions about how to use a Pre for tethered internet access, explaining that such discussions risk upsetting Sprint.

In a posting on the Wiki, the owner said that Palm has been in touch and politely explained that for the duration of Sprint's exclusivity, and perhaps beyond, Palm doesn't want to see the Pre being used as a tethered dongle. The Dev Wiki doesn't want to upset Palm and so has removed all discussion groups, and IRC channels, relating to connecting a laptop to the internet through a Pre.

The Palm Pre comes locked down, only able to install applications signed by Palm and using AJAX (with proprietary extensions). When we spoke to Palm, before the Pre launch, the company admitted some native development would be allowed - but made it clear that such things would be restricted to Palm partners.

Apple's iPhone initially relied on an AJAX platform for applications, and though the extensions on the Pre make the ideal less laughable (you can install apps, interact with the GUI, stuff like that) it still places limitations on what developers can do with what they consider to be their hardware. Thus the formation of the Pre Dev Wiki to pool information about how to crack open a Pre and install your own software, though the latter process is still largely theoretical.

Tethering applications have a chequered history on the iPhone, for similar reasons: while everyone claims that that the mobile internet is just as good as a laptop, in fact bigger screens consume a lot more bandwidth, and network operators would like to charge a premium for that connectivity. A tethering application for the Pre would make that difficult for the network operators, particularly if such an application bypassed the Palm approval process.

Palm can't afford to upset Sprint, Palm's customer to the tune of several hundred dollars of upset subsidy per handset, but it is prepared to pass the buck to the network operator. The long-term problem is that tethering has proved the killer application that's pushed many iPhone owners into jailbreaking their handsets - a situation that could be replicated unless Sprint gets a tariff in place quickly. ®

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