Motorola has long held the stance that their Android phones were not meant to be used as an operating system development platform. This story goes back almost a year ago when the Android community became upset that the Motorola Milestone could not load custom ROMs to which a Motodev employee responded, “We highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes.”
“Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years,” said Lori Fraleigh of Motorola. That same message was echoed yesterday on Motorola’s YouTube page where an employee responded to concerns about a locked bootloader by saying, “If you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we’ll continue with our strategy that is working thanks.”
After receiving lots of feedback from the community, it sounds like Motorola might be ready to change their position on locked bootloaders. Shortly after the YouTube comment was made, Motorola posted an apology on their Facebook page. “We are working closely with our partners to offer a bootloader solution that will enable developers to use our devices as a development platform while still protecting our users’ interests. More detailed information will follow as we get closer to availability.”
Nick Kralevich, an engineer on the Android Security Team, has previously said that it is possible to design a safe unlocking technique for Android phones and users should demand it. Mr. Kralevich wrote, “We can only hope that carriers and manufacturers will recognize this, and not force users to choose between device openness and security. It’s possible to design unlocking techniques that protect the integrity of the mobile network, the rights of content providers, and the rights of application developers, while at the same time giving users choice.”
Hopefully this is a sign that Google and Motorola are working together to solve this problem.
Is gaining legitimate root access to your device an important feature you would like to see in your next phone? Let us know what you would like to see Motorola do when it comes to their current bootloader policy.