Motorola has a locked bootloader policy

By now everyone with even the slightest interest in Android or smartphone tech knows that Motorola has been pretty pugnacious about locking and encrypting the bootloader on their Android phones.  There have been numerous community-driven calls for action to try to convince Motorola to change this policy, and it looks like the current one could be the straw that broke the camel's back.  Motorola has responded to Irwin Proud, a gentleman who started a Groubal complaint about the bootloader issue, with the following:

In terms of your question – we completely understand the operator requirement for security to the end user, and as well, want to support the developer communities desire to use these products as a development platform. It is our intention to enable the unlockable/relockable bootloader currently found on Motorola XOOM across our portfolio of devices starting in late 2011, where carriers and operators will allow it.

Don't break out the bubbly just yet though, the last bit there is pretty telling.  Carriers and operators aren't going to be chomping at the bit to sell unlocked developer phones, especially Verizon -- which happens to be the major player in the U.S. for Motorola and Android.  It's possible that it will see the value in this, but so far it has remained silent about the entire issue.  I also wouldn't be surprised if this policy is in effect for new phones only, and not applicable for the Atrix or upcoming Bionic.

But something is always better than nothing, and this may be the first step to a future where Motorola Android phones are friendly to developers.  We can only hope. [Ausdroid] Thanks everyone who sent this in!


Reader comments

Motorola to have a new bootloader policy come late 2011


It seems to me that Verizon is trying to keep their head down in this issue. They don't want unlocked bootloaders on their network, of course, but I suspect that most carriers don't.

However, this new policy will, if implemented, create another differentiator between the networks; they aren't stupid, if if drives a significant number of customers towards (or away from) a carrier, the carriers themselves *will* sit up and take notice. Just like Motorola did when the pressure really started to mount.

And that's the other thing I see here: so far, there has been a LOT of pressure on Motorola to unlock the bootloaders, and almost no pressure on the carriers. I think, however, that if the same level of pressure that has been applied to Motorola is applied to the carriers, then they will change their tune as well. Especially so if there is a carrier that distinguishes itself by courting the "developer community".

Also, I expect that now that "we" have been successful with Motorola, look for ramped up efforts to get HTC & Samsung to move :)

Yeah, Motorola might come around. But why take chances? Motorola is going to need to work really hard to get me to come back. I have a Droid 1 and when my contract is up later this year, I will be going to Samsung or HTC.

I am going with the competition. The Droid 1 was their best phone so far, and I dont think it was a coincidence that it was also their only stock Android phone.

I say the bootloader to be easily unlocked thru the carrier/OEM, but the user should also be required to sign documentation acknowledging that the warrenty/insurance becomes void upon said unlocking.

Can anyone explain why the seemingly logical idea of signing away the carrier liability doesn't already exist? I realize the language has to be very careful, but other than that... Why not? Wouldn't that save money on the replacement end and make money by selling off-contract price replacement phones?

It seems to me this verbiage already exists in your contract, in the form of altering your device, etc. Someone will have to do the footwork for me, but we all know it basically sums up as, "if you do what we don't like, we have the right to cancel/charge more, etc."

The biggest issue circulates back to what's already being discussed in the forums. Carriers want to identify and restrict and/or cancel rooted members to protect the network. This means unauthorized tethering, over-utilization of bandwidth, and priracy.

I think more needs to be done to limit what it is carriers don't want, as opposed to just lumping everyone into one broad category. Users/consumers have the right to "destroy" their phone and carriers should do more to identify fraudulant returns, and contract breaching, as opposed to assuming that root = bad.

This is why I love being on Sprint. Just the other day, they sent out an email to all their CSRs saying that even if a phone is found to be rooted, they will still do any repairs covered under the warranty. I seriously doubt that is something that VZW or AT&T would ever do.

I'm really hoping that this step by Moto leads to other companies doing the same, especially HTC. I'd really love to be able to run CyanogenMod 8 on my upcoming Evo 3D.

If you want to get this done you must also contact your Wireless provider.

If you are on Big Red the best way to do this is to contact their executive board. After you do so a representative from their executive relations team will call you. And unlike the general call center people what you tell them counts. So speak politely but firmly and tell them that the locked bootloader is unacceptable.

Each executive's email can be found in their profile.

Well Motorola, maybe you'll see me buy a phone of yours after all. But probably not, since I'm going to get one in June and well, I refused to buy one of your locked phones.

Except that the hardware warranty being voided if you change the software is completely ridiculous. I would be fine if warranty coverage was held pending inspection and diagnostic. It's like Dell coming up to you and saying I'm sorry but we have only approved Vista on your laptop and you loaded 7 so we won't cover your burned out screen.

As I replied to someone else above, Sprint will do warranty repairs even if your phone is rooted. I'd love to see other carriers do this as well, but I'm not holding my breath.

So... they're just going to start passing along the blame to the carriers then? How very corporate.

Cmon... Atrix and Bionic have to have their bootloaders unlocked... They're monsters of Moto... please... i would love to have awesome custom roms on my atrix.. I'm not saying the 3 roms stink, but still....

I really want the Droid X2 unlocked, that looks to be my next phone and this would easily seal the deal for me if this happens

I really want the Droid X2 unlocked, that looks to be my next phone and this would easily seal the deal for me if this happens