The reasons for the Nexus series of devices being non-MVNO friendly are many and we’ll explore them here on the Ting blog soon. More pressing though is an entirely end user-driven petition campaign asking Google to make the next non-GSM versions of the Nexus devices MVNO friendly.
We have a lot of love for unmodified Android as it comes on the Nexus devices. It’s the most open, the most pure and Nexus users are always the first to get OTA updates meaning it’s also the line that is running the absolute latest version of Android. In short, it’s not your typical locked-down smartphone. It’s ironic, then, that MVNOs like Ting who are challenging business as usual mobile are out of the running to carry the Nexus device, itself a challenger.
We’ve been considering a letter writing campaign or a petition in order to show popular support for making the Nexus MVNO friendly. One particularly would-be Ting Nexus user, Ken Kinder, decided to beat us to the punch. He started TingMyNexus.com, hosting the petition that was on our to-do list. He started circulating it to get digital signatures: 74 at last count. We asked Ken what motivated him to start this effort:
Ting: Why do you think the Nexus line of devices should have a
home on Ting (and by extension, other MVNOs?)
Ken Kinder: Well of course the Galaxy Nexus is the most hacker-friendly phone on the market. Google doesn’t offer tech support for tinkering with the firmware, but they also don’t try to stop you. Ting has the same attitude: they’re happy to have hobbyists finding creative ways to use their devices.
A more subtle connection is that Ting, like the Galaxy Nexus, is a clean and distraction-free experience. Booting up a phone with a lot of pre-installed doodads, demo apps, and unwanted games is like walking down the Vegas strip: everywhere you look, stuff is competing for your attention. Websites for many carriers, and especially discount MVNOs, are the same way with flashing banners, constant up-sells, and gaudy advertisements. Ting and the Galaxy Nexus are both pleasant experiences, free of post-sale up-sells.
T: What prompted you to create the TingMyNexus.com site?
K: I had contemplated creating it before Ting’s BYOD announcement but after we learned that the Nexus would be excluded from BYOD, I was just really surprised. Google sells an unlocked, carrier-neutral version of their GSM phone, so their decision to keep the LTE Nexus exclusive to only a few carriers is puzzling. I feel that if Ting users voice their demand, Google might reexamine its distribution agreements and bring the next Nexus phone to Ting, or at least let the Sprint version be ported.
T: What is it about the Nexus devices that you find so compelling?
K: It’s the canonical Android phone, so Android updates come quickly. Every other phone has some modified version of what’s on the Nexus, but the Nexus has the original Android operating system, as it was intended by the people who made it. Just as important, although more OEMs are coming around on this, the Nexus phones have always let you install whatever operating system you want on your phone. I feel like if I own a computer, I should be able to use whatever software I want on it, and the Nexus is ideal for that.
T: What are your goals for the site? What does success look like for
K: The current Galaxy Nexus is almost a year old, so it’s their next flagship phone that’s on the horizon for me. If Google releases that device for Ting, that’s the best possible outcome.
T: How can people help get the word out?
K: Tweet it, share it on your social networks, and let people know. There is a huge community of hobbyists who want a carrier with a transparent pricing model. Go on XDA-Developers or Reddit and you’ll find plenty of contempt for big phone companies charging for things like tethering or voicemail. People in the Android tech community really do want to just buy pristine phones outright, then pay for what they use.
T: What platform did you use before you made the move to Android?
Specifically, what was it about Android that made you switch?
K: The HTC G1 was my first smartphone and the first Android phone. Its main appeal at the time, honestly, was that it would synchronize over the air to my Gmail address book. Being a full-time developer and long-time Linux user, I also appreciate that most of Android is Open Source.
FWIW, I actually ordered a Galaxy S3. But I’m going to keep it in an Otterbox so that if Ting ever gets the next Nexus device, I can resell my S3 on Swappa and get the Nexus. The S3 is a great phone spec-wise, but I still prefer stock Android to Touchwiz.