Smartphone maker HTC has pledged to stop locking down its handsets' bootloader code, a move that makes it easier to install complete custom operating system releases. For 'custom operating system releases' read 'not carrier-specific version'. HTC CEO Peter Chou made the promise on the company's Facebook page, stating: "Today, I …
Part of the Holy Trinity
I'm sure the resounding response to this will be "about bloody time!"
Since Android came along I know a lot of technically literate people who deal with their phones on three levels. The phone manufacturer provides hardware and nothing else, the phone company provides the comms and nothing else, and then they bed down with a modding group or two for the OS. If you can do it, it's ideal as then you have fealty to no one supplier and can pick and choose parts of that package as it suits you.
If HTC follow through with this (fully) then they're certainly top of my list as the hardware supplier from now on.
With such a positive experience using CyanogenMod 7 on my HTC Desire HD compared to the stock ROM that shipped with the phone, there is no way I would ever buy an Android phone ever again unless:
a) It was relatively easy to install a custom ROM (ie, unlocked bootloader)
b) A decent custom ROM existed for the phone (ie, CyanogenMod or good alternative)
The difference between the stock ROM and CM7 is night and day, I've even run 'Android Revolution HD' which is just a highly optimised version of the official HTC rom and even it runs rings around the stock one. Clearly HTC didn't spend too much time polishing it.
+ Overlocking and the ability to flash newer radio code is something which I really like.
Are handset makers starting to see sense?
"Current phones may get bootloader-unlocking updates"
Unlikely. Why would HTC spend the engineering effort? The current strategy, at least with Android, seems to be "release a new ROM if a new version of Android is released, but only one major OS version upgrade".
That said, I might be proved wrong. I thought they'd ignore the small proportion of their customers clamouring for this, but fortunately they've realised that small proportion hits above their weight by usually being people their friends and family go to for "what phone should I get?" advice. And I certainly wasn't recommending HTC to anyone.
Esc because now we can escape dodgy operator branding again.
Or a support cost cutting measure
If customers want to update Android past one or two point revisions then they can be politely told to do it themselves.
I lent my weedy voice to the masses calling for this.
Had they chosen to continue making it hard to tweak the OS, I certainly wouldn't have been able to consider buying a Sensation.
Having been through the hoops to unlock a friend's Galaxy S, it was easy to see that the manufacturers were getting better at preventing rooting.
Carriers won't like it.
But I do.
But does this mean that you can just get the latest Android build, or will you need to get the HTC build of Android?
Big Thumbs Up
All that needs to be said, really.
Good work HTC
You were close to losing new customers because of this. I can just hear the sounds of rejoicing over at xda-dev.
It hurts nobody but potentially the carriers because you can get features they never intended.
They need to get their noses out of our data.
If I've paid my £10pm for "unlimited" mobile data, why do they get to say what I can't do with it?
I don't mind "no tethering" clauses (smartphones have different data needs to PCs), but they shouldn't have any say in the features on phones they haven't produced themselves.
This influenced my decision, I got a Desire HD instead of Desire S based *purely* on the lack of signed bootloader (the wife got a Desire S and she had S-OFF on hers anyway so it could be rooted).
Listening to Customers?
No wonder their market value is now greater than Nokia's.
I guess HTC can see the value in allowing their customers to play with the technology they've paid for - take note Sony, Apple, Microsoft, (this list is too long!).
Cue howls of protest from the carriers as their vain attempts to be solution providers and purveyors of cruft to the gentry rather than just pipe sellers take another stake to the heart.
HTC make the best phones and I expect to buy HTC for my next phone after abandoning HTC for their dumb behaviour and going with a ZTE Blade (it runs CM7 so I can hardly call it it an Orange San-francisco).
The only effect of HTC strategy was that the dev's spent more time hacking the boot-loader and less time polishing the ROM.
Now this fool strategy has gone, maybe HTC's next step will be to sponsor CM7 or something,
Good on ya, HTC!
Please keep your promise
The only problem is...
That the carriers will lock the bootloader again when they put all the other branded cack on it no doubt. This will be for unbranded paid up front vanilla phones only.
Still, it is a good start, still using my HTC Hero with few problems thanks the Cyanogen and Villainrom. Got bored of waiting from the quite frankly dog eggs HTC Sense 1.5 version that came with the phone that had many many bugs. Not had the current ROM crash in a long time. Very stable since Google fixed Navi.
On carrier subsidised phones
For which they are perfectly entitled to do pretty much anything they want to, including modifying the HTC provided firmware to re-add bootloader locking.
You, the user, are also perfectly entitled to tell the carriers to go eff themselves, buy the phone from Amazon or wherever and buy a sim-only contract from a _service_ provider, not a phone subsidising carrier that sees good money in locking you into lucrative multi year contracts.
Thank you HTC, you made it so my next phone purchase will most probably be HTC, as the previous one has been.
unbranded subsidized phones with contract...
I don't know about the UK, but in Germany, you can buy an unbranded, unlocked phone with a contract from any of the majors, by going through a 3rd party vendor.
Just got a Samsung Galaxy SII i9100, unbranded, unlocked, with a Vodafone internet flat rate for (converted from euros: 86 pence purchase price and 17.30 pounds for 24 months. No other fees)
And Sorry HTC, I saw this news item about you quitting to lock your bootloaders too late. But there's always the next one ;-)
Nice but ultimately pointless
Isn't Google moving to essentially block rooted devices from their services?
It started with Google Movie Rentals but I expect we'll be seeing a lot more of this with the move to Ice Cream Sandwich, in order to "prevent fragmentation" or assure DRM on their Music Service.
Surely a case of "The Lord Gave, and the (other) Lord Hath Taken Away".
"Isn't Google moving to essentially block rooted devices from their services?"
They can't. My rooted device will just say 'why, no, I'm not rooted' when ever Google asks.
DRM doesn't work, you'd think Google would get this.
Google get it, MPAA don't.
Google have done what they need to in order to be allowed to stream movies, but I'm sure they're fully aware of the limitations. MPAA members still seem to think DRM is useful, and insist on it as a precondition to any form of digital distribution.
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