I recently upgraded from a Sony Ericsson T610 to the T630. It wasn't going to be a big deal, it was all free under my T-Mobile contract and I was looking forward to having the rough edges on the T610 rounded a little in its successor – better screen, larger buttons and so on. Little did I know that T-Mobile have completely lost the plot.
I got the upgrade from a T-Mobile shop in Brighton and so got the inevitably T-Mobile branded phone. I expected just the usual T-Mobile logo pasted on the phone, and it did indeed have this, but this time it was only the beginning. This phone is ultra branded with the 'Internet' button on the right-hand side of the phone having a t-zones logo stuck on it. But it gets worse… switching the phone or off gives you a T-Mobile logo animation. By default the phone also has a screen saver and wallpaper with the T-Mobile logo. Everything screams T-Mobile. Like I honestly care or could forget which network I was using.
But they committed one further crime against phone usability. They actually hijacked several buttons. They didn't just set the default web page to t-zones (too easy), moving the joystick left (normally reserved for starting a text message) took you to a menu of t-zones services. Just in case I could forget about t-zones they hard-coded a replacement to the 'More' button on the phone which also takes you to t-zones. The More button is a soft button which on the T610 was eminently useful allowing quick access to features such as Bluetooth, Infrared and so on. Now it is a great big ugly single-use button plastered with the t-zones logo.
No amount of theme changing, settings fiddling or wailing will remove this annoyance. I've pretty much de-T-Mobilised the rest of the phone, but this button jeers at me each time I use the phone. I don't like it. I don't like it at all. I've discovered that the only way to remove it is to have someone illicitly wipe the phone's flash memory and install the default Sony Ericsson install. But doing so is likely to void several warranties etc etc.
This kind of brand overload serves no purpose except to irritate. T-Mobile made sure I was aware of t-zones with lots of literature in the phone's box. They set a default homepage to t-zones. Fair enough. But what good does it do them to reduce the functionality of my phone and shove their brand down my throat? Is the excessive branding going to sell T-Mobile to others? Highly unlikely. This is an exercise in corporate self-aggrandisement. One small problem, they forgot why they're in business…. their customers.