If you have been following the Android forums, Twitter feeds, news sites and been listening to our podcast over the past couple of months, you will have noticed a hot topic amongst the Android Power Users about locked bootloaders and the Australian who is trying to take on Motorola U.S. to free their Android devices.
In late January this year, Motorola made an announcement on their Facebook page stating that they would be working on a bootloader solution that would support developers while protecting end users. This announcement coincided with some bad press received from their Motorola Atrix 4G video posted on YouTube, when asked in comments if the bootloader would be unlocked a Motorola representative advised the commenter that if they were after an unlocked bootloader, to look elsewhere. A media storm ensued and the subsequent Facebook announcement was made.
Read on after the break to see how one determined Aussie took the fight to Motorola.
This is where the story gets interesting, Irwin Proud from Melbourne, Australia decided to pick up the Motorola Atrix 4G from the United States as it was the first readily available consumer dual core Android phone of 2011. Irwin purchased the phone in the hopes that Motorola would indeed follow through with their Facebook announcement, thus allowing the high end customisation, such as CyanogenMod. After receiving the phone in late February and later finding out that the bootloader was not unlocked Irwin contacted Motorola to find out if they actually had any intention of unlocking the bootloader of the device. After 3 emails and 1 snail mail letter sent, to which no response was received from Motorola, Irwin decided to start an online petition using a site called Groubal.
The Motorola Locked/Encrypted Bootloader Policy petition was started on the 10th March 2011 and in just over a month has accumulated 8,500 signatures. There has been numerous coverage from Android specific news sites and has even spurred on a Facebook page that has over 500 supporters with the sole purpose of bombarding Motorola’s Facebook page with bootloader questions.
“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.”
This was a huge step forward from Motorola and an admission of the possibility of them following in the footsteps of Sony Ericsson who recently changed their Bootloader Policy to allow users with a carrier unlocked phone to open the bootloader across their 2011 range of Xperia devices.
Irwin is still pursuing this further and will continue to do so until something concrete is released or announced from Motorola.
We will be following Irwin’s actions closely and keep the community updated as the story develops.
With any hope here is a “Big Stick”.
I’d say there’s a better chance of me buying a unicorn at the local pet store than there is of Verizon allowing the boot loaders to remain unlocked or be unlock able. Sadly for us, they have the final say..
They allowed the Droid, Xoom, Thunderbolt, Incredible, Incredible 2, etc on their network. It’s not Verizon that’s locking these phones down, it’s Motorola. HTC doesn’t lock their phones.
wrong, it is per the vendors request
Gratz on getting onto engadget!!
I thought we already had a petition since 2010 made by one of Motorola Milestone user? Imagine if we summed it up, it would be even more than 8500 signatures…
so in other words, all bootloaders will continue to be locked because no carrier will allow it. are there really idiots out there who think this is news?
This maybe true, but it does put pressure on the carriers. Remember without handsets customer don’t connect. If a carrier has a handset a customer wants, they will switch. Carriers need to realise that they are the be all and end all. It also puts pressure on Motorola to do something. Sony Ericsson have done this same thing, it’s gives them a better rep out there with their customers. Let’s hope Motorola go the same route
You have to realise that the situation is different in the US though, Lucas. In Australia handsets are distinguished by the carriers only as the few handsets that we have are usually spread across all the carriers. Conversely, in the US exclusivity deals are what make up the meat of a customer’s choice. Until January of this year, if somebody wanted an iPhone, they went to AT&T. If they wanted a Motorola Droid they went to Verizon. The carriers therefore can have as much control as they like without worrying about their customers choosing a different carrier to get the… Read more »
I do not and cannot see the email from Motorola as anything other than a get out of gaol free card. quote: “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.” ‘intention’, no actual, full, binding, non-optional, commitment. ‘starting in late 2011’, an airy fairy guesstimate of a possible timeframe some 6 or more months away at which point Motorola will need to have a new excuse readied. ‘where carriers and operators will allow it’ gives Motorola a viable… Read more »
Like I said before to Custom Colonel, it puts pressure on them to follow suit, such as HTC (of old) and the new Sony Ericsson.
The thing is, it’s often up to the carriers anyway. AT&T is notorious for forcing the signing/encrypting of bootloaders so that they (the carrier) can stop sideloading of applications and keep control over how data is used. Of course, all due credit to Motorola for (at least hopefully) following through with the promise.
Also, this sort of story is nice to see. Stuff that isn’t exactly news is always interesting as long as it’s relevant.
I sincerely hope this happens.
Good stuff @ibproud . Power to the people 🙂