Motorola Apologizes For PR Gaffe, Promises Better Bootloader Policy


Despite Motorola continually making some of the hottest Android handsets – and the pattern continues with the Atrix – some of the most passionate Android fans refuse to become customers because of a “locked bootloader”. Manufacturers locking their bootloader essentially prevents rooting, and when one YouTuber expressed their displeasure, a MOTO employee uncharacteristically shot back, saying:

if you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we’ll continue with our strategy that is working thanks.

As you can expect, this wasn’t exactly well received by the general Android-loving public. However, the haste of one employee isn’t reflective of a company and Motorola has promptly attempted to patch the problem on Facebook:

Props to the way Motorola is handling the ordeal. They could have just deleted the comments and pretend it never happened. Nope. They manned up and posted an apology. Not only that, but they also announced they’re working on a solution to bootloader annoyances that irritate so many ROM devs and rooters.

Hopefully they follow through on that last tidbit, but until then, nice job turning it around. How do you think this will play out? Just lip service to make your forget their foul-up or will they follow through on the bootloader business?

[Thanks, Trident!]

Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. I dream of the day where CyanogenMod boots on the X.

  2. I am a fan of how they have owned the issue by apologizing and offering to at least try to work with devs.
    Great Job Moto!

  3. Wow….I really do hope they are not blowing smoke ….

  4. Bs they’re just eying to save their ass

  5. This isn’t just important for power-users but also everyone else, to ensure devices don’t get orphaned into obsolescence once Motorola inevitably loses interest in providing Android updates.

  6. Loving Moto more and more!

  7. @Bob: Sadly, most users don’t care. Otherwise they wouldn’t be selling as many phones as they currently do.
    A company’s goal is to make profits…. if a user will tolerate/put up/accept a behavior that saves or makes more money for the company… take a wild guess what the company will do

  8. If they unlock that bootloader.. then man that atrix is gonna be soooooooo drool worthy.. because thats the only slight on it, is the bootloader. Get past that and it’s the best phone, no question…

    Well a gyro would’ve been nice too :p

  9. What I tell everyone they were gonna apologize and fix the problem!!!

  10. I truly hope they are sincere with this because i have an og droid and I’m running gingerbread because it isn’t locked down. I wanna get the Bionic but might reconsider if it is locked up tight.

  11. Atrix for sure if it isn’t locked.
    Maybe LG 2x or wait for dual core HTC otherwise.

    Waited over two years to get a new phone…now that phones are outdated after 6 months I can’t afford to get one that won’t/can’t be updated.

  12. Users will care… Power users drive the market. It may not hurt at first but eventually it will… People look for advice to power users and they wont be recommending Motorola… If users didnt care they would be using Windows and Palm’s and Blackberries… Plus the users that dont care will most likely switch to the iPhone… Motorola will be right back where it started…

  13. I hope they are sincere, however I believe that this is just a PR ploy. I’ll believe it until I see a premium phone like Bionic or Artrix with an unlocked bootloader.

  14. I’m with the camp of if you dont like it, buy else where.. Moto still makes a very high quality product and I could give a shit if the boot loader is locked or not. It was fun to play with my droid 1 more than I can play with the root of my X but the X has been so good to me I will keep buying locked down Moto product over HTC or samsung.

  15. I like Moto…and really rooting is not my thing but…its cool to see they care

  16. Atrix 4G!

  17. I have a Droid X. Never again will I buy a Motorola product while they are locking down anything that prevents me from doing what I want with it. To be honest, I’m just tired of all the Android fragmentation. Hopefully the nexus S, or something from Google, will come over to Verizon. All I want is a phone that makes great calls, gets a good gps signal, and allows me to customize *MY* phone, for my needs. The only thing I’ve seen worse, recently, is Samsung and their butchering of rolling out upgrades.

  18. Random thought. But on the screen where you slide to unlock your phone.. where it shows the time, date, and alarm. Wouldn’t it be cool if it showed all your unread notifications. Like 2 message, 4 emails, 1 missed call, etc.. Idk. It just hit me.


  20. @lost They’ll care in a year or two when they’ll want the option of staying with a non-abandoned device instead of being forced into buying a new one or the option of handing a non-abandoned device off to a friend.

  21. Lol. That comment IS definitely moto’s policy, regardless of what the apology says. I’m pretty sure they are blowing smoke about trying to find an amicable solution to the bootloader issue. The masses don’t care, so moto says what they think the “offended community” (devs & those interested in rooting) wants to hear.

  22. I am pretty new to this whole bootloader stuff but I am curious, I own a droid 2, can motorola write a program that unlocks the bootloader or is that a hardware issue?
    My wife has an Og droid which we recently Rooted and we are enjoying what a routed droid can do, I would love to see what a rooted droid 2.can do.

  23. @Michael: You can root and load custom ROMs on the D2. But as far as I know, you still cannot load custom kernels on the D2.

  24. I love my droid x and would hope Moto wouldn’t try to lock us faithful android/moto fans down like that. Give us what we want we are the consumers. If you give us what we want, you get more sales prospects. Think about it long and hard moto, you must be bright enough to see this.

  25. I will stick with HTC, no thanks MOTO.

  26. I wonder if Moto got overloaded with e-mails, texts and tweets about how much we care about the bootloader issue . If that would have any effect on their bootloader policy. Just a thought:)

  27. @Richard Yarrell

    Dude, let it out. It’s not healthy keeping your feelings all bottled up like that.


  29. Root has little to do with an unlocked bootloader. You can root a locked phone with no problem (like the droid X and milestone). You can also upgrade to a new android version without rooting. The real problems is that a locked bootloader only accepts signed (encrypted) kernels (boot partition). This is important because if Motorola do not provide updates (many Motorola phones are still waiting for 2.2 and 2.1 in some cases), none will because a 1024bits key is needed to sign the boot partition. So you will be left in the last version supported. Forget about a custom ROM if Motorola do not provide the boot for that version. For example the Quench (cliq xt) is still in version 1.5 and the Milestone (international droid) is still in 2.1 and was advertised as “flash ready”. Both phones are still being sold in many countries with outdated versions.

    If Motorola do not provide the key or some workaround (at least after the end of sales or end of warranty), my next phone will not be Motorola and I will not recommend it to my friends and the android community.

  30. BS. If Motorola wants to “offer a boot-loader solution” like they state in that propaganda, it’s as easy as providing the key to sign kernels with to the development community.

  31. BS. If Motorola really wants to “provide a boot-loader solution” as that propaganda states, it’s as simple as providing the development community with the key to sign kernels with.

  32. Devs deserve as much love as from moto as they have from HTC. Even though I don’t have a Moto device. So I can help my friend enjoy a rooted droid x or droid.

  33. @B anon: Sorry, but power users, mods, devs, and/or enthusiasts do NOT drive the market. Its the every day joe schmo consumer who far and away outnumbers us. They are the market. They are the ones who see the flashy commercials or listen to a store employee regurgitate sales pitches about how great this or that “droid phone” is. If people like us had a true sizeable wedge of the pie in regard to sales, then you better believe we wouldn’t have issues like this…instead we would have devices that came truly developer friendly, with release papers as part of the sale process.

  34. So let me get this right…they lock their phones down, on purpose mind you, and then when a Moto employee tells a user to forget Moto products if they want to root and ROM it…NOW they are working on a solution??? Sounds like a load of BS to me. Face it…Moto is becoming the Microsoft of Android. This coming from a Moto fan!

  35. Motorola are full of s**t.
    I can’t resist popping up in threads like this: Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha lied at CES 2010 when he stated that ALL Moto Android handsets would get 2.1, Moto Europe subsequently confirmed that lie with a status update on Facebook stating again that all Moto Android handsets would get 2.1.
    Eventually Moto’s spineless forum “support” shills were forced to admit that – yes – Motorola had lied and the Dext (UK/Europe) would NOT be getting 2.1.
    Which is why HTC have just received my upgrade patronage and why I will never buy a Motorola product again.

  36. I am never buying moto again and have been advising others the same. The Milestone was riddled with bugs and it took them months to fix it. Would have been fine if they’d let users into the bootloader to fix themselves.

  37. Kudos! I was kind of bummed that I wouldn’t be able to buy Moto again. Let’s hope they follow through, which I for one, believe they will.

  38. fastboot oem unlock

  39. Let them put their money where their mouth is: give us the keys to the DX/D2. Release it to XDA, perhaps. This wouldnt happen because it isnt just Motorola. Verizon would have a heart attack if Moto released the key. I’ve said many times before that Google should require each carrier to have one nexus-type (unlocked vanilla android) phone in their lineup if they want to carry Android handsets. I understand different brands wanting to differentiate, and it would make little sense to have ~200 android phones that differed only in clock speed, memory, and appearance. However, locking down bootloaders on vzw’s part, i think has much more to do with the fact that they dont want people using tethering without pating them $10 or $20/month than people bricking phones. I understand protecting your interests, but after being a vzw customer for about 10 years, I am going to start looking elsewhere. Verizon, in my experience, has always had the best coverage for me; I travel around a lot and have had signals in odd places where others didnt, but they are getting out of hand with nickel and diming every damn thing they can (putting a shitty City ID demo on your phone that cant be removed without rooting, and asking you to pay a few bucks a month for an app that will tell you within 19 parsecs the location of the incoming phone number?!) Vzw had a hand in the locked bootloaders on the DX/D2. I was told as much when I talked to vzw. Screw ’em both. Until I see a Moto/vzw unlocked android phone, Im not beleiving a word of it.

  40. And just because they are still offering Droid OGs on their website doesnt count. I love the OG, but this is 2011.

  41. bullcrap moto!! mottorola can just talk without giving users a real result. there is no point for them to release a phone with dual core tegra processor if the bootloader is locked. this note is just a marketing technique as they know they are losing a lot of customers trough locking the bootloader. they are giving us false hope. one example is the milestone: motorola promised froyo since last year but till this second, NO FROYO! so F**k motorola!!!

  42. Just smoke and mirrors to distract the average buyers…

    Trust me their ‘tude is HORRIBLE.

    They have not wanted to hear any thing negative about the i1 and its 1.5! Nor do they want to discuss upgrades, or specifically that there will NEVER be an update to the i1 to anything current unless they rework their iDEN baseband module.

    New phone/radio i886 and STILL V1.5!

    The recent update to the i1 just adds wasteful software like stupertube, but still 1.5.

    They admitted the truth, now are trying to cover it up..

    Just like on this, they delete and moderate away any comments about upgrades, updates etc. for the i1. They won’t even let you post about it… moderated 100% Just goto to the motodev forums and try to post about an i1 update to 2.3! It won’t be there long if it even gets posted as last time I tried it was moderation full time.

    My LG and I are quite happy… and that was chosen OVER the Droid Pro…save $150 in that choice got a better phone too.

    Lets see Android save the phone division, and now your going to bite the hand that feeds you?!?!? Good move.. bye moto!

  43. statement: “the response does not reflect the views of motorola”

    read: “because we don’t view saying what we mean as policy”

    statement: “we are working closely with our partners”

    read: “so if it won’t happen anytime soon, it’s not our fault”

    statement: “while still protecting our users’ interests”

    read: “stockholders’ interests”

    statement: “more detailed information will follow”

    read: “please accept our response and forget the whole thing ever happened. When you wake up you will feel refreshed and like our products and support. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, SNAP”

  44. Thats easy…they will just wait until nobody remembers it anymore and….there you go, issue solved.

    Now, on the bootloader thing, things gonna stay the way it is. And my Milestone will be my last MotoFail phone.

  45. They can ship locked down for all I care. Still the best build quality in android.

  46. I still wonder why some smart Android manufacturer doesn’t just release a device with an unlocked bootloader and then have an inaccessible area of flash memory with a copy of the original ROM. Then you solve all of your support problems by having users do a full factory reset. I think most of us would be happy with that, even if it didn’t allow radio access.

  47. Best quality yeah. I’d still take a Nexus S. Moto has up till June to come up with something and it better be good. And if you think power users do not drive the market, you are being naive. Power users drove Android to where it is now; one OEM is not immune from our sway.

  48. You people moaning and crying about moto’s locked bootloaders are such an insignificant minority of consumers that the original comment from Moto in the youtube comment really does show their lack of concern about your limp wristed complaints.

    They still make the best quality hardware in the Android game and if you want to continue to use that crappy plastic HTC stuff because you can put a buggy ROM on it then go for it. Moto isn’t losing any money from you – because for every one of you that is complaining about a silly thing such as a locked bootloader – they are getting 5 customers because of their product quality.

    Oh and I love the comment about “I’m getting sick of the Android fragmentation” and then goes into a complaint about how he can’t load a custom ROM onto his moto phone.


  50. Read what the message says. It’s not saying they’re going to release new phones with unlocked bootloaders. It says they’re looking at finding a developer option. Expect that all models, in general, will have locked bootloaders. This is especially true if the carrier insists (and it’s almost certain AT&T will insist, so don’t go looking for an unlocked Atrix). However, they could end up selling some phones unlocked, but they will be full non-subsidized price. You won’t likely be seeing a $99 or even a $200 unlocked phone. You’re more likely going to be seeing $600 unlocked developer phones, which would not necessarily bother an actual developer who can consider it the cost of doing business.

  51. Moto is trying to save face. I don’t believe they’re working on any “solution” one bit.

  52. I really hope they not just making vapor promises …
    The Motorola phone / tablet specs are great but bootloader lock ? No way >_<

  53. To those on this forum and others that claim “we” are whiners and cry babies because we vent our frustration at antics from oems like Moto, and claim it will do no good, I ask this:

    What are we supposed to do? Go along and never complain and just accept whatever it is that carriers and oems want to do? I for one believe that our feedback on these forums find their way to them, and we at least slow them down or force them to re-think at least some of what they do before they move forward and implement their ideas. And word of mouth to our friends, family and coworkers about what to buy or not buy makes a difference as well…

    People ask me all the time what phone/carrier to go with because they know I am at least a little bit tech savy or at least highly enthused.

    These people need to hear feedback from us!

  54. I have a liberty ROM on my droid x and am loving it… If you follow the directions, you shouldn’t have issues bricking your phone

  55. @romma, it’s not about the what, but about the how. You call what the OEMs do with their bootloaders “antics.” It’s a market policy. They’re not out to get anyone. They see it as a strategic advantage. You can disagree with that. You can desire something different. You can voice those concerns. However, when people do that with overbearing self-importance, as though their opinion is The One Right and True Path, and woe be to the OEMs to cross THEM, yeah, that’s whining. That’s what one expects from a badly behaved 3-Year-Old, not from adults.
    When you tell family and friends which phones to buy, do you explain your reasoning and let them make an informed decision? Or do you force your own opinions onto them, not considering what’s best for them? The overwhelming majority of users not only don’t care about custom ROMS, they wouldn’t use them if they could out of fear of what they could do to their phones. Does that matter to you, or are you willing to saddle your friends and family with what you think is best to make your point, instead of getting them the best phone for their needs?

  56. I don’t develop, so having the bootloader locked is really just a minor annoyance at not being able to do something, as opposed to needing to do something with it. I’m sure someone will either hack it or they’ll release a fix to unlock it, or they won’t and it won’t matter since we’ll all still buy them.

  57. AndrOINC is a boinc project trying to break a 1024 bit RSA key used by Motorola to sign the boot and recovery partitions on the Motorola Milestone. If this key could be broken, we would be able to sign our own boot/recovery images, which would enable us to run custom kernels and recovery images on the Milestone.

  58. Why do people defend Moto and their bootloader policy?
    What exactly is gained by them locking down their bootloader? Absolutely Nothing
    Now what is lost? The ability to do with our phones whatever we want.
    I can understand locked bootloaders on phones under contract, but not for phones purchased off contract.

  59. @uprooted, Spoken like a true motorola employee. How is a locked bootloader on a phone from a company that is notoriously slow to update that phone in the best interest of of someone who does not know any better? Should we not tell them the truth? And then what is the strategic advantage if not to get un-imformed consumers to spend their money on a product that is poorly supported, locked up, and already has a pre-determined day of obsolescence?
    Motorola is “out to get people”. They do it everyday with ads and every other marketing campaign they run just like every other corporation. Here is the right question: “Should I let my un-informed or mis-informed friends and family buy a product that I as someone with greater knowledge of the said product purchase something that is sub-par?” According to you we should all fall in line and let our corporate masters decide what is best for everyone because they know what’s best for everyone. Get back to work, motorola’s floors don’t mop themselves.

  60. Just because you don’t understand the purpose doesn’t mean there isn’t one. They don’t do it just to screw over customers. They do it for strategic business reasons, which seemingly work out pretty well since they continue the practice. You don’t do things that don’t make (or save) money. It’s the height of arrogance to assume that just because there’s no benefit to you, that there’s no benefit at all.

  61. If it wasn’t for Motorola never releasing updates for their devices, 90% of those rooting their devices wouldn’t need or want to anymore anyway.
    Dammit Moto, stop being a dingus and release 2.x for all your handsets, keep it vanilla if you can’t handle it, or provide a vanilla source blob when you’re done supporting a device.
    I don’t want to buy $500 electronic device only to have it unsupported after 6 months.
    I will buy and recommend other manufacturer’s products over moto everytime until they change the way they deal with updates.

  62. Never releasing updates? Since I’ve had my Droid, I’ve received several updates. Hardly qualifies as “Never”. Besides, you do realize there is a process by which this has to happen, don’t you? Updates need to be tested in house, then qualified by the carrier, and it’s the carrier who determines if and when an update goes out. OEMs can’t just push an update, even if it’s so-called “stock Android” anytime they care to do so. Carriers only have so much bandwidth to qualify releases, so they naturally concentrate on the higher-end devices.

  63. It’s silly for them to say they want to “protect their user’s interests.”

    The real reason all of these manufacturers don’t like rooting is because then they can’t promise companies that users will carry their bloatware. They must make lots of money pushing apps on users that they didn’t ask for and can’t uninstall without rooting.

    I think this is the real crux of the issue. The main point of Android is customizability. Take that away, and you start to resemble all the other crap out there. They need to decide whether they are a device manufacturer or app hawker.

    Offer people apps, but don’t force apps on people, it’s just not polite.

  64. Powerusers, being the minute fraction of a fraction owners don’t make a difference? Tell that to Sony.
    I’ve always checked out forums to read up on any major product purchase. Even if I didn’t have a clear understanding of what people were complaining about, I’d see there is an issue that MAY hinder me later. I’d check other sites/forums…and see the same complaints. You betcha I’d let my friends know.

  65. @meanderingthemaze
    Seriously. If an app is so crappy that the only way to get users to use it is to shove it in their faces, maybe they need to take a step back and try to improve the quality or usefulness of the app.

    By forcing people to have certain apps on the phone, they are learning NOTHING from their customers and only infuriating them.

  66. @ROM the Spaceknight
    “It’s the height of arrogance to assume that just because there’s no benefit to you, that there’s no benefit at all.”

    You can’t seriously think that anyone is assuming that.

    “I want to be able to uninstall this app because I bought this phone and I feel the app is useless.” There is NOTHING arrogant about that thought. Not one non-stockholder customer gives a rip if it benefits Motorola or not. We don’t buy our phones to benefit Motorola and its partners.

  67. they knew that deleting the message would do nothing in the mirrors/blog world of internet, so they published an apology. But i think that the employee is the one saying the real truth behind the company’s politic.

  68. Looks like the old “were working on the problem so we can come to a compromise” solution. Which is code for pretend like were trying to work with them an do nothing until this dies down.

  69. Just chose not to buy the atrix because of locked bootloader. -1 point for motorola and locked bootloader. And of course, I will steer others away from it out of spite. I will probably cost them about 8 or 10 sales.
    Sad, because this phone was such a good idea. Seriously what percent of the market does motorola think will want the lapdock and NOT want to tweak their phone? Retarded, and sinfully control-hungry.

  70. I think Motorola should hurry up, because they are about to lose some serious user base. I have a Milestone that runs the latest Froyo update from Motorola. It’s slow as a snail, slower than the Eclair it used to run. Now, I can’t do anything about it because I cannot revert to Eclair, not can I flash a custom that enables swap. I think it would have been better if Motorola never released the Froyo update because everytime you enter an app and go back to the homescreen, the homescreen restarts. That is crazy!! I’m spending more time watching the homescreen restart than actually using the phone. I saw a G1 running a swap enabled Froyo and I have to say that it smoked my Milestone. I hope they will realize what an buzz kill this locked bootloader is and release the signing key to the community.

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