Locked/encrypted bootloaders (and Android devices in general) are no fun. They go against the very ideals Google continually barks concerning Android — open and “free”. And yet we have hardware manufacturers continuing to lock down devices despite promises to do otherwise. HTC started out as a very hacker friendly company and then oddly enough started dipping their toes in less consumer friendly tactics such as the aforementioned Android bootloader locking. Thankfully they listen to their customers and after a brief Facebook and Twitter campaign begging HTC to lighten up, the company announced that they were doing just that.
Motorola on the other hand has never been a very consumer first/profit second company. Their Android track record — outside of the original DROID from November ’09 which was their high point — is pathetic. Since then they’ve had a hit and miss list of unshackled Android devices.
But change is coming, right? Wrong. That anti-consumer locked bootloader policy the company promised would be going away is once again being employed on the company’s latest DROID 3 handset…
Motorola (and other manufactures) push some of the blame off on carriers saying it is they who have the final say on the status of bootloaders and hackability. We call bullshit, however. Motorola is the one who makes the phone. They have just as much of a say as Verizon does for without exciting hardware people will jump to other carriers.
With the DROID 3, other current Motorola hardware getting the locked treatment include the Photon 4G (Sprint) DROID X2 (VZW), Atrix 4G (VZW), DROID 2 (VZW), and DROID X (VZW). In this light with carrier associations listed it can certainly look like carriers do have the power in their court. But we’ll stand by our claim that Motorola could make a difference should they actually choose to do so.
Aside from the initial launch status, Android hackers have been fairly routine and resilient in breaking these unnecessary blocks, though at the expense of time. The devices with heavier handed protections obviously take longer — anywhere from a week or two to several months. In a market where the top-end offering is replaced every 6-8 weeks, it’s unfortunate and disappointing.
Here’s to hoping the next Motorola handset is worth owning…