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T-Mobile's CTO on G1 unlocking and tethering -- plus a few details you might have missed

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While there was a flurry (actually, a full on snowstorm) of news today about the G1, there's a few bits of info you might not have heard, largely because no one is reporting them. We had a chance to speak with T-Mobile CTO Cole Brodman after the event today, and he had some illuminating -- and frankly refreshing -- takes on some of our more pressing questions. When asked about what T-Mobile's reaction would be to users creating tethering or unlocking apps for the phone, he was surprisingly even-keeled, noting that while the company didn't encourage the practice, they wouldn't lock down the OS or update the software to break those applications. Our impression was that as long as their use was relegated to a small percentage of owners, T-Mobile likely wouldn't take action, though he did voice concerns over tethering apps and their effect on the network, with a clearly guarded eye to letting users have free reign. More interestingly, buyers would be able to have access to a "contract free" G1 (with a price point of $399), and could unlock the device with T-Mobile's blessing after 90 days. Brodman also said that the company's policy of unlocking phones for customers in good standing wouldn't change for this phone.



Another feature we got a more in-depth look at was the phone's copy and paste functionality. While it seems to be mainly connected to use of the trackball (you use a key press / trackball gesture to select text), you can't just grab any text -- it has to be from an editable text box. However, the browser is capable of detecting phone numbers and email addresses, and will allow you to grab that text and move to contacts. This would probably all be slightly more alarming if it weren't for the fact that Google is allowing developers to code extensions and add-ons for specific apps as well as system-wide functions, leading us to believe that it won't take very long before someone implements a more robust copy and paste scenario.

Besides the lack of a headphone jack, there's no included video application (there is a free player available to download), and there's an 8GB limit on storage space -- though according to our main man Ryan Block, the device is spec'd for microSDHC cards, thus allowing capacities up to 32GB. The G1 still doesn't present many syncing options, and there's certainly no iTunes love here (much to the chagrin of at least one industry analyst) -- you're pretty much stuck in the Google / T-Mobile / Amazon ecosystems.

T-Mobile almost seems to be positioning itself as the anti-Apple in the smartphone game. It's not an unusual move given their position in the market right now, but the fact that the company's CTO is willing to admit that the answer to the unlocking or tethering questions aren't as cut and dry as the folks in Cupertino have painted things is somewhat heartening to hear. Now let's just see if they can stick to that live-and-let-live attitude in the storm they're likely about to weather once the G1 hits store shelves.

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