Due to a friendly person in Taiwan, I have now received a Google/Android/T-Mobile G1 device. Not that I'm interested in actually using it as my regular phone, but just to play a bit around with it. I've already had a chance to use the device for a bit, and I think it's surprisingly unimpressive. Mechanical quality of the swivel and keyboard is OK but definitely not as good as e.g. the HTC Kaiser/TyTN2.
What I'm much more interested in is to confirm my my earlier suspicions on the lack of openness of Android, or at least the actual devices based on Android.
As it seems, in fact it only accepts cryptographically signed kernels, and the signatures that are accepted are not signatures of the user who has bought and owns the device, but rather the signatures of Google/Android/T-Mobile/HTC.
I still think it's extremely weird that you actually buy a device, and then don't own it. I would have no problem if the device is rented from the manufacturer or the mobile network operator. Sure, then in this rented device, only they control what kind of software you use. But this is not the case. People buy it, pay money, legally own the device but technically don't.
I've seen that there are some hacks, including one one that puts the engineering bootloader on the G1. Sure, there will always people who exploit known security issues in hardware, ROM or software, just like the guys who work on Linux on the iPhone, or the now-proclaimed-dead Motorola MAGX platform. However, this doesn't address my point. Those kind of hacks will be closed at least with the next hardware release, and they can only be performed by a really small portion of the actual users (owners).
A truly open device (including mobile phone) has to give the user the freedom of choice what code he runs... Just like on the PC. You can run any OS you want, any App you want. Hell, you can even go ahead and write your own OS if you want. And the G1 is definitely not giving you that kind of freedom.