Why I hate cell phones (a.k.a. Why Android is so important)

Posted by Jeff Beeman on Thu, 11/29/2007 - 19:29

I was reading through my news feeds this evening and come across 1Up's glowing review of Orcs & Elves II. Not being much of a cell phone gamer, I passed on the original since I had heard it was coming to the Nintendo DS... and I still haven't played it there, either. So, I figured, "What the heck? Why not give it a shot?" So, I Googled "orcs & elves blackberry", which gave me a link to EA's page to buy the original game (Orcs & Elves) as the top result. Perfect, right?

Not quite. Look at this garbage. There are a number of things I could complain about as a user, so where do I even start? My first reaction was, "Holy crap. How the hell am I supposed to find my phone in that list?" After finally finding anything called a "Blackberry" on that mess they call a web page, I realized that I was just looking at the list for AT&T phones. Well, I'm on T-Mobile, so, a few minutes later, I found my way to the T-Mobile purchase page. No Blackberry was listed at all, let alone the model I have. "So... I can't buy the game? ...I think?" It was so confusing and frustrating, I didn't even even bother looking any more.

From god-awful two dollar ring tones that were probably ripped off from a music nerd's MIDI collection forum, to the industry's insistence on abandoning technology before it's even off the manufacturing floor, there are a million things wrong with the current cell phone industry. For me, though, when it comes to gaming - the problems become personal. It's insulting to me as a consumer and a gamer that my desire to give someone money for something has to be such an absolute pain in the ass. My money must not be that valuable to them, so I'm sure they won't miss it as I leave to go spend it elsewhere.

This whole experience, and dozens of other experiences like it, is why I'm so happy Google and their partners in the Open Handset Alliance are attempting to change that landscape with Android. Who knows - it could end up being just another marginally successful attempt at standardization, like J2ME - but good on 'em for giving it a shot. I really hope it works out. Until the industry evolves, though, I'll be sticking with things that work for my mobile entertainment and continuing to give blatantly dirty looks to the tween at the movies who's phone rips my ears apart with the sounds of the Cheetah Girls.