Motorola Issues Updated Statement About Bootloader Outcry, But Not Much is New


Motorola has thankfully reiterated their plans to work to provide developers deeper access to their devices by allowing them to unlock their bootloaders. Unfortunately, that’s all they did – no timeline or other pertinent details were given outside of the fact that it’ll be launched in “late 2011”. Here’s the full quote for your consideration:

“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.”

The response comes from the efforts of the thousands of souls who’ve signed a petition over at Groubal asking Motorola to follow through with their word. I imagine they were also pressured by an embarrassing response to an innocent question they posed to their fans on Facebook a couple of weeks back.

And, to be honest, we’re still not all that happy about Motorola’s efforts. “Late 2011” is such a ways away from now and they say that ultimately the carriers will decide whether or not bootloaders remain locked. Fortunately most carriers don’t seem to mind (we know there are tons of Samsung and HTC phones with the freest of free bootloaders) so we’ll see if Motorola’s just blowing smoke once that time comes. [via AusDroid]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Whereas this may not come soon enough for Droid X users, like me, it seems to me to be an interesting opening for future phones like the Bionic. If future Motos would be unlocked, I would be a repeat purchaser, because the hardware quality is very good. If not, over to htc or samsung I go.

    1. Agree I am the same way if moto unlocks the bootloaders then I will be back on board otherwise htc and samsung.

      1. Uhhhh I take it you haven’t really been following HTC. They’ve started implementing tighter bootloader security on their newer devices. A lot of devs, including Cyanogen, are jumping ship and will stop supporting HTC devices if this trend continues

        1. Kyle,

          As I understand it, the TB has a locked BL but it is not encrypted and therefore one can unlock it. Please correct me if I’ve misspoken.

          1. Ultimately, it doesn’t much matter. The Android community is so robust that the only difference is whether it’s rooted before release or a week or so after lol

  2. Question is, will carriers allow it? They don’t have reason to since they do offer insurance/protection plans.

    1. No carriers specifically alLOW it, per SE, because if you root, you’ve technically voided your warranty. However, manufacturers lock their bootloaders but don’t encrypt it, as does Moto. There’s the difference. Samsung and HTC’s bootloaders have been unlocked, allowing far different roms, than stock.

    2. Sprint is one of the carriers who doesn’t care and have even gone as far as telling customers they can bring their rooted phones to their service center to be fixed, but they dont do anything with software issues obviously. But its verizon and AT&T who really dont like customers rooting, so I doubt that will change anytime soon. But sprint customers dont have anything to worry about with the evo 3d coming out.

    3. I’d bet AT&T won’t. They seem to have some strong tightwad tendencies, like not allowing non-Market app installation. To be fair, though, I was shocked, SHOCKED at the lack of AT&T bloat on my Atrix.

      On the other hand it was made up for by Motorola bloat, so there you go.

      I don’t know. This Atrix isn’t too shabby. You can unlock the webtop bit even without root for any HDMI connection, and with root you can do a significant fraction of everything short of installing a custom ROM. It’s more the principle of the thing, I guess.

      1. They couldn’t get AFee&Fee Bloat on your Atrix because the after putting MotoBlur on it, there was no room left. They would have had to have added a third core on the phone for that.

  3. With custom roms comes added features. Example- mobile AP tethering. On AT&T they want you to pay for that feature. By enabling this unlocking on their network they are basically opening the doors inviting people to “steal” (term used loose as you already purchase data, who are they to say how you can use it) the service. I can see where the carriers say no dice, however like tmobile pulling the cliq’s 2.0 update moto will probably still allow for downloading the software patch/fix/flash from the web.

    Hopefully I get my bootloaded unlocked (atrix owner) and I can get a little CM goodness :)

    1. You don’t need a custom ROM or an unencrypted bootloader to use a wireless tether. All you need is root access – rooted stock works fine- and download Wireless Tether for Root Users, Barnacle, or one of the others. from the market.

    2. You can use 2nd init to load before stock bootloader…thus enabling you to load CM7 once someone ports it over for your device…I am sure it’s already in the process as we had Atrix devs contacting our Defy devs about it (Defy has been running CM7 for almost a week now).

  4. “Late 2011” is a ridiculously long time in the cell phone business. They first spoke of this towards the end of January, they’re just using the standard stall tactics and will have some other BS excuse if it comes up later. I’m done with you Moto, you make such great hardware and ruin it with terrible software and draconian business practices.


    2. not really. since we are in the 5th month nearly now. theres a 3 or 4 month lead time on new phones so theyre probably working on applying this to their new line up

  5. “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.”

    Add emphasis on final sentence: “where carriers and operators will allow it”

    Basically, never.

    Ex-Motorola Milestone user here.

  6. Motorola is one of the most developer-hostile manufacturers around, they’re just blowing smoke until this whole thing blows over. They’re hoping everyone quietly forgets about it.

  7. In other words, stop bitching at us. . . the carriers are the ones requiring it, their the dickheads!

    1. Except most carriers have other unlocked phones. Tmobile, Sprint, Verizon all have examples of unencrypted bootloaders.

    2. Except most carriers have other unlocked phones. Tmobile, Sprint, Verizon all have examples of unencrypted bootloaders.

  8. Something needs to be understood, there are TWO Motorola company’s now. Motorola Mobility is the responsible party for all things Mobile…including the XOOM.

    Motorola Solutions is the Enterprise solutions provider.

    Using the old Motorola batwings logo will be getting you into trouble soon…you have been warned.

    1. I’m sure it’s not that serious.

  9. As an Atrix owner this is BS I’m selling this phone on craigslist at a loss. I’ll use my Aria which is a better phone untill the next HTC dual core monster is available from AT&T.

    Motorola is handling the situation like they don’t no what they want to do. Atleast Apple would come out and say we’re not unlocking the bootloader but Motorola is run by a bunch of chicken shits. They need to start at the top and fire their CEO Bobby Jindal.

    1. Hey Dick, seems to me Bobby Jindal is the Governor of Louisana, he probably would be a better CEO than Sanjay Jha, who is the current CEO of Motorola Mobility

  10. Greedy verizon and at&t probably won’t agree to this plan.

  11. For all you Atrix owners that are selling their phone because they want cyanogen…hold onto your phone. There is a way to run CM7 on a locked bootloader phone, it’s called 2nd init and has already been in use on my lovely motorola defy. I’m sure it’s only a matter of hours/days before someone uses 2nd init on your Atrix and will start porting over CM7.

  12. While Moto has been the source of many a DROID X users frustration (mine included) I think there is some (only some) truth to carrier lockdown. Pretty sure vzw doesn’t like people not buying new phones every couple yrs and hence new contracts and new etf fees.

  13. Carriers… what about people who buy their phones on amazon or someplace else, to be able to move from one carrier to the next? Will my phone be unlocked anytime soon?
    Don’t think so.

  14. Personally, I think it is nothing more than a bunch of lip service from HTC ala Motorola
    Amongst all of the arguing regarding encrypted bootloaders and people pointing out that rooters are an insignificant minority, I am surprised that no one pointed out that if rooters are such a small minority, then why are the OEMs and/or carriers utilizing things such as e-fuses and heavy-duty RSA encryption? I think there are two main reasons they do this:
    1) Tethering. For me, personally, I could care less about tethering,  I think the longest I’ve ever tethered anything was to do a speed test, and once, a few weeks back, to tether my Thunderbolt to my friend’s Droid X so she could download Liberty (a Droid 2/X ROM – yes, I know,  the irony). I know a lot of people rely on their phones to use as a hotspot to run their laptops, which, in my opinion, makes little difference – if the information is sent to your phone or passes through to a laptop, it isn’t going to put anymore strain on the networks, and changes nothing in many cases. It is the people (and I’ve talked to quite a few) who get it into their heads after first seeing LTE/WiMax, etc. that they’re going drop their home ISP and run their computers, xbox360, PS3, stream netflix through blu-ray players, etc., from their phones. THAT is abusing the hell out of tethering and downright ignorant. I hate to play devil’s advocate in that particular matter, but that type of tethering does NOT fall under the “I would’ve done it on my phone anyway, and I paid for it”. You paid for a PHONE data plan, NOT running every device in the house that hooks up to the internet, or playing xbox live death matches 40+hours a week.
    2) Free replacements. It would be difficult for me to even estimate how many people on any android site with a forum (including this one) have suddenly had “problems” when a new phone came out. Quite awhile ago, it was reported that Asurion was replacing phones with inferior devices (which lasted about 24 hours because everyone was showing up at the gates with torches and pitchforks – and rightfully so), very shortly afterwards, people reported getting a Droid 2 as a replacement for a D1, for example (I happened to be one of them, and didn’t want anything to do with the D2). Then, suddenly, the Android forums all over the internet were full of people asking what kind of replacement they could expect if their phone had a sudden “accident” – which is literally insurance fraud, and costs money. If your phone had a legitimate accident, that’s one thing, deliberately throwing your phone into a wall or dropping it on a pile of rocks to get a newer phone is ignorant. Deliberately bricking your phone when an update conveniently comes along and claiming the update “broke it” is the same thing, and in case no one noticed, these phones aren’t cheap – the more claims made, the higher prices and deductibles go. While I understand that (most) phone companies pull in money hand-over-fist, and people use that as a justification to say “screw them, they’re already rich”. These companies aren’t your mother, they aren’t here to care about you. They are in business for one reason and one reason only: to make money. Nowhere does it say that these are charity organizations that are supposed to be kind, caring, benevolent entities. They are out to make as much money as possible, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves. If they are making commercials where they appear to care about you, it is called “marketing”. I don’t see any CEOs reciting the definition of marketing from a dictionary.
    With all of that said, although it may have seemed otherwise, I am dead-against encrypted bootloaders, I was only pointing out this issue from a different perspective.  There is no “cool factor” in it for me. I like to flash custom ROMs and themes, and play around with themes of my own. I also like to update my phone much more quickly than the OEMs/carriers do, especially when there is a significant update, such as 2.2 (2.3 honestly isn’t much of a difference from 2.2, and with the exception of the icons, 99.9% of people wouldn’t even know the difference, especially if they’re running Launcher Pro, Go Launcher, etc.). In the end, I think encrypting bootloaders, and in some cases, utilizing e-fuses will only create more problems. People aren’t likely to say “Wow, that looks too hard, I’m not rooting this phone.” what will happen is, they’ll just find someone else to do it for them, or just go ahead and try anyway – with a higher chance of bricking the phone to some degree. I am concerned about the bootloader encryption because today, there is encryption and e-fuses, who knows how much more locked-down it will be next year or two years from now? The line has to be drawn somewhere, or else Android is going to end up in the oft-mentioned “walled garden” with their top competitor. I hope that doesn’t happen, because I really love Android, and have had a lot of fun with it the past couple of years.

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