Motorola Looking to Change Their Bootloader Policy and Image in the Process


Yes, you just heard right folks. According to a Twitterer by the name of @IBProud, Motorola may in fact be doing the implausible. Mr. Proud, who started a petition 5 months ago called “Unlock teh Bootloader,” was able to receive around 10,000 signatures and prompted a response from Motorola basically saying, “We’ll look into it.”

Well, not much has been heard from Motorola since then and I’m sure you’ve heard all of the negative feedback from users on the subject. Not to mention Moto just continued pumping out device after device with encrypted bootloaders which lead many to believe the petition had simply been ignored.

Bootloaders has been a hot topic these days with Sony Ericsson being one of the first OEM’s to offer their phone’s unencrypted with HTC quickly following suit after a similar public outcry type situation on their Facebook page causing their CEO to finally cave in and announce that they too, will no longer be encrypting their bootloaders.

Fast forward to today where, after a phone call with Christy Wyatt, Vice President of Mobile Software for Motorola Mobility, Irwin Proud received some shocking news about Motorola and their plans for the future of their bootloaders. According to Christy, Motorola has taken this bootloader policy very seriously and have in fact been listening to the developer community. Moto has been hard at work on preparing an update for their devices that will allow for an unlockable/relockable bootloader. They hope to push out the update sometime in Q3 or Q4 of this year.

So what’s been holding them back? Has Motorola locked up their bootloaders so tight that even they have had a hard time trying to crack them? Well not exactly. Once again, it’s those darn carriers. According to Motorola, carriers have to fully put these updates through their paces to ensure not only compatibility, but to make sure everything is up to their security standards as well. Bet you didn’t know so much was going on behind the scenes, right? All of this simply to allow a user to flash a custom ROM or develop on a device. Motorola also pointed out that the unlocking/relocking update on the Xoom was well received by carriers and they’re optimistic that each of their future devices that receive an update in the future, will be getting their bootloader unlocked in the process. Wow.

So that’s pretty much the gist of it. Straight from the guy who single-handedly got this bootloader ball rolling and straight from the horse’s mouth. I’ve always been one to skim through the comments on our site and to say to say the popular opinion on Motorola has been negative, would be an understatement. So with this breaking news, does this change your opinion on the company and can you perhaps see a Motorola device in your future? Can’t wait to read your feedback.

[Via AusDroid]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. This better be for real. I miss Motorola’s hardware and want to go back, but don’t want to deal with the lock boot loader nonsense.

  2. IF this happens, it might actually make me consider a Motorola device next time.

    1. Same here, but please Moto unlock my milestone 1 and 2 and all locked phones, not just the new models. If you do that i will consider a Motorola device next time.

    2. I have been passing moto due to their locked bootloaders. I might consider them if their bootloaders are unlocked. I think it is a must since moto fails to provide updates past the 6-month period after the product release.

  3. Some of this is old news, but what I hadn’t heard before is that they’ll be updating their old devices too. That’s going to build a lot of good will with me. Again, OEMs can do whatever they want with their software as long as I can disable it, even if I have to go to the extreme of flashing another ROM.

    Here’s hoping I can get CM7 on my Droid2 by Christmas.

  4. It’s still too vague…

  5. Motorola has done enough to sully their name. Plus their line up isn’t even “ZOMG” anymore, the competition has one upped them. Sure this is great, unlocked bootloaders, but their designs are starting to look ugly, and they all look the same. . .they say HTC looks the same. . .but look at Motorola, I mean come on.

    1. Are you high on shit.  All phones are pretty much cookie cutter except for the motos.  Show me another make that looks like a droid x or droid 2.  Put a sammy and htc side by side and they are pretty much the same form.

      1. Um, the droid x2 and droid don’t look anything like the droid x and droid 2…wait, what?

        1. Oh, but something like, oh I don’t know,let’s say the G2, looks exactly like the G1…so yeah, that crazy HTC and their lack of original concepts, huh?

          1. the g2 looked nothing like the g1 are you high?

        2. Yea but does the Droid X look like the Droid1, Droid 2, Droid Pro?

          How many sequel phones DONT look like the previous one?

      2. Tell me one Motorola device that is amazing that isn’t on Verizon. That has already been released.

        1. Some consider the Atrix… I said ‘some’.

          1. Haha, that’s the only one.

    2. I’m going to sit back, drink a beer, and watch you tell me which Motorola device looks like the Photon.  I’ll wait. 

      Motorola did sully their name, but if they give all the carries high end devices, plus unlock the bootloaders, it’ll be one love.  Crazy how the OG Droid was one of the best Android devices ever, and now this ongoing mess. HTC handled their situation in a week, and the carriers didn’t complain or stopped them.  I’m not buying this carrier support BS.

    3. I agree. HTC phones have started looking the same, but Motorola is even worse at that.

      1. Their phones may not be the most attractive, but if they were to unlock their bootloaders, and then take it a step further and give us stock on all upcoming devices, I think many would be able to forgive Moto for their devices “lack” of esthetic appeal.  While they may not be the best looking, many Moto devices have pretty solid build quality.

        1. Yeah, they just love Verizon too much and release all the good things there.

          1. True, but you have to admit that Verzion doesn’t see too many of the other companies’ high-end devices.  Most of the nice HTC units end up on Sprint.

            I think only Samsung really plays all fields by offering most of their products to all carriers, albeit in slightly different flavors.

          2. I think HTC has more of a spread between Sprint, T-Mobile, and at&t. I like T-Mobiles HTC line up better.

    4. To respond to everyone that says HTC lacks design originality:

      All their devices look like better looking evolutions of the other or the design “smells” like HTC. I like that rather than exact doubles or UGLY designs.

  6. I’ll just have to wait until it’s implemented. Until then, my policy is don’t buy or recommend devices that are locked down. Even if those devices have “promises” of being unlocked in the future.

  7. i thought motorola’s move to lock the bootloader was a way of proving their device can be secured — that way, they could penetrate enterprise market.

  8. I’m waiting for the next Nexus phone, don’t mind me.

  9. i like that it was the decisions were made based on the public’s demands. makes me as a user feel more powerful and more integral in the decision making of these companies.

  10. After xt720 fiasco… Eclair mind you… Never received an update despite its many issues. I am steering clear from this company. The xt720 was last moto phone. It is tucked away on the forgotten drawer.

    1. So you bought a piece of shit and expect something good?

  11. *Opens E-Mail*

    *Presses “New E-Mail”*
    To: Motorola Doubters
    Subject: Your Attention is Needed
    Message: HA! TOLD YA!

    I must say, even though Motorola locking their bootloaders didn’t make me as happy about their phones as i could be (like my Droid 1, which was amazing), i stuck with Motorola. Why? Because i have always loved Motorola’s Radios (reception) and build quality. This news makes me extremely happy that i stuck with Motorola and makes me chuckle at the people that turned against the company that, arguably, makes the best QUALITY phones on the market. Sure, Samsung’s phones LOOK cool, but their specs are about the same as Motorola’s, and their reception sucks and they break incredibly easily. I bought a Droid X2 on May 26th (release day) and i would be happy with it even if Motorola were to keep its bootloader locked. With this news, however, i hope they unlock it. Overall, I’ve been a Motorola fan from Day 1, and im super pumped about this news. 

    1. I’ll believe it when it happens moto has been saying this for months and all they have done is continue to lock their devices.

    2. i dont think ill ever buy a motorola phone again over this…. unlocked bootloader or not they can find  another person to sell there junk to.

  12. love flashing custom roms and kernals and the like but I don’t really care my nexus s 4g sucks and am switching to the Photon 4G day one.

  13. Until they can guarantee quick updates on their devices I won’t be buying a Motorola device again, the Xoom is my first, but after waiting this long for 3.1 on a “pure Google” device and still no word on when it will be available outside the US, I hate to think about how they handle non-stock devices

    1. You haven’t gotten the 3.1 update yet on your xoom?  That seems odd.  I’ve been rocking 3.1, less than a week after they said we’d be getting it.  I have the wi-fi version.  My first Moto device as well.

  14. Meanwhile MS brags that they lock down their entire mobile OS. Bodes well for their future in the mobile arena

  15. I may actually consider buying a moto phone again in november when I’m due for my upgrade. I loved the build quality of my OG Droid, you could beat the hell out of it and it would still work fine. I dropped mine onto asphalt from about 3 or 4 feet a few times (directly on the screen once) and all it got was a small chunk out of the corner of the bezel. Never had a case on it and only had a screen protector on for about 2 months until I found out how strong gorilla glass was. Their headphone jacks and usb ports were horrible though, the would become sloppy and loose after repeated connections and removals (in the span of 3 to 6 months).

    My buddy who had an HTC incredible always made fun of me cuz my droid was naked and kept saying that it was gonna break any minute because I man handled it so much. A few weeks later he cracked his screen by leaning too hard against a desk while moving it. He babied his dinc and had a silicon case on it and a screen protector. 

    When I made the switch from the OG to the Inc it felt like going from a 5lb red brick to a hollow plastic brick, it was so light and felt like it could break easily. When I first got it I had to keep checking to see if I had it because I couldn’t feel it lol

  16. Maybe, just maybe, device manufacturers will actually start fighting over “who is the most open” now, as it should’ve been from the beginning since Android is open, but they just took advantage of that together with the carriers, and locked it down. 

    If we’re lucky (or keep demanding it), they might even start making stock phones eventually. Crazy thought, I know.

    1. As should be expected. People don’t care about “open”, so the carriers in turn don’t. 99% of the android buying public does not give two shits about the AOSP or locked/unlocked bootloaders.

      1. Doubt it’s 99%. Maybe 90%. But those 10% that do care about it, are the ones evangelizing their products to the rest of the 90%. If they don’t like it for whatever reason and “hate” the company for doing something bad to the phones, they won’t promote them to their friends, or online, either.

        So they may be just 10% of the market, but their words can influence most of the other 90%. That’s why Samsung, HTC and now Motorola are changing their policies. If they didn’t think these 10% can affect their image or their sales, they wouldn’t have done it and they would continue not to care.

        And don’t forget that part of these 10% are also the writers on blogs such as Phandroid or Engadget. Whatever they say can influence millions reading their stories online. So it does help when these writers scold the companies for BS policies, too, even though statistically they are very few in numbers.

        1. Well said.

  17. Not good enough.

    Both HTC’s and Samsung’s phonea come out of the box with a unlocked bootloader.

    Although you will be able to unlock the bootloader on Motorola’s devices, your warranty will be void.

  18. If your boot loader is locked or unlocked it makes no
    difference, unless you are a developer and can write code and make a custom rom.
    Fact is, no matter what phone you are on odds are some developer will make a
    rom that will go around or utilize the unlocked boot loader. Look at the DX, it
    is locked down, yet is probably the most rom’d and themed phone out there! I am
    all for unlocked devices and freedom of choice. But come on people, Moto makes
    the best phones and EVERYONE knows it! Just saying.

    1.  “Look at the DX, it
      is locked down, yet is probably the most rom’d and themed phone out there.”
      you’re kidding me right? Ever look at ANY HTC phone’s dev community or the community for the OG Droid? Until then, don’t talk.

      1. I am talking… So what is your point? Have you written a custom rom? No. That is what I am saying. And I will keep on talking on and on and on!
        And oh yeah, HTC phones are crap! they haven’t made ONE with a good battery.

        1. How about the EVO 4G? XDD

        2. You clearly do not know that many developers flock to HTC devices because of the fact the bootloader has been UNLOCKED, or was already unlocked. Having a bootloader that is locked means you cant really put any improvements or change the phone’s software completely. In the end the DX has the locked bootloader and still has the same Motorola based ROM, themes don’t count as custom ROMs. . .

    2. With the locked bootloader, DX owners had to wait 6 months for a good theme and a year for a cyanogenmod port. They still cant change the kernel to implement new features or solve motorola bugs. With an unlocker bl you can have that in weeks. THAT is the difference…

    3. “If your boot loader is locked or unlocked it makes no

      From the first words you said, it’s obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about. If it didn’t make a difference, and it can be easily worked around, why do you think people are asking about unlocking, demanding it?

      It _does_ make a difference.

      1. I am a developer. I cannot, unless I break modern crypto, work 100% around a bootloader that checks the signature of the kernel. I’ve owned a Milestone…trust me. You can change some software around the kernel, get root, but to actually use an updated, modern kernel or updated modules, you *cant*.

    4. OMG! NO! I have the Milestone 2 ( EU version) and it super sucks on the software side! Since almost a year some very shameful problems have been unsolved by Motorola:
      – the clock (time displayed can be wrong by few hours)
      – the wifi (can’t connect some open wifi, on which HTC desire is fine)
      – battery life ( less than a day with moderate usage and push email).
      If they unlock the bootloader I hope CM7 will fixed all the above, but for me this was my Motorola ever.

    5. I’m fairly certain that a phone with a locked bootloader cannot run custom roms.  This is the reason why people are talking down Moto devices…not because they think they are inferior to other companies products.  If you skim the comments you’ll see a fair amount of people who say they’d reconsider or would definitely buy a Motorola if it had an unlocked bootloader.

      I am one of those people.  I love my og Droid…I still swear buy it, and by the time I’m ready to upgrade (pretty soon) I’ll most likely be getting a Bionic…provided the bootloader is unlocked.

  19. I have an Atrix. It’s rooted. Would like to flash a rom on it, but i’m more than happy to wait, coming to moto from a samsung captivate. i chose moto bc of the specs on the atrix. it was such a tremendous jump from the captivate. plus samsung’s inability to get 2.2 out on time. my biggest concern is getting speedy updates. Moto at least comes through on that, as does HTC. Samsung, just terrible. Launcher apps make up for the inability to load custom roms for now. Moto has issues, sure, but Samsung is so horrible it makes Moto look good.

    1. atrix is still 2.2

  20. “Once again, it’s those darn carriers.”

    Bullshit. My Milestone is carrier-free and it has a locked bootloader.

  21. This is awesome news.  Moto just got on the list of potential phones, though I do love me some HTC.

  22. And what’s wrong with that? If you use a product in a way that wasn’t approved, most any product, you void the warranty.  You want to be able to hack the phone, overclock it until you fry the cpu, and still expect it to be replaced when you screw up?  Nope.  Personal responsibility: you break it you bought it.

    1. no one, is asking for replacements when they break their phones.  every person ive seen on the forums and in person who has rooted their phones understands that if they screw it up they shouldnt expect a free replacement.

      1. That’s not true, there are threads in discussion forums here (androidforums) , and on other Android sites as well that have more than a few people who discuss what kind of replacement phone to expect from carriers or underwriters when a new phone comes along, and theirs suddenly has an “accident” or just “stops working” after an update because they’ve deliberately bricked their phones to some degree, or dropped them down the stairs. About a year or so ago, Asurion replaced OG Droids with Droid 2s in many cases, and there were discussions about the best way of going about ruining the perfectly good phone you already have to get an upgrade. I’m all for rooting and flashing custom ROMs, but that is another matter completely, and even legal and moral issues aside, that just screws us all in the end, because they’ll just adjust their prices and/or deductibles accordingly. It doesn’t seem to be something that is rampant, but a lot of people have not only asked for replacements after they screwed up because they didn’t know what they were doing and how to fix it, there are folks out there who’ve done it on purpose and played stupid; “honest, it just stopped working after that update!”.

  23. I really like Motorola. They still have amazing build quality

  24. cyanogenMod on my Atrix 4G would be the best Christmas gift for me. I would pay $20 to receive timely android update! you here that, big G?

  25. LG ftw

  26. I’ve stuck with my Droid1 for this reason. I want to pay for a phone I can mod. Moto has the best hardware. If they can get serious about unlocked devices, they can kiss the dev community ars all the way to the bank. It’s the hardcore droid-heads that get there friends & family on Android anyway. I want an open Droid Bionic.

    1. They had the best hardware.
      After the Original Droid they have been behind everybody else.

  27. IMO, Moto’s hardware is superior.  If bootloader keys are given out, then these are the best phones out there, for me at least.

    1. Maybe if you look at build quality, but performance wise they are behind the curve

  28. Yes it will definitley change my opinion of Motorola.Id love to buy American and Moto does mak some great devices I just never even consider them because of the bootloader and I tell others to stay clear as well. I hope they follow through!

  29. I would love to see the Droid 3 become a true successor to the OG Droid – which the Droid 2 was not; it was a great piece of hardware that was nothing like the D1 – from the encrypted the bootloader to the utilization of e-fuses to the blur. I would love to see a Bionic with a non-encrypted bootloader – Motorola makes some great hardware, and I’d love for them to stop encrypting bootloaders (they can even make a line with encrypted bootloaders for people who feel they need them), I just take this all as lip-service until I see some actual results.

  30. Now if they would just do away with Motoblur (which the average consumer would not even notice) I would consider buying a Motorola!

  31. Is this April fools day?

  32. I just bought the Milestone 2. I have been a big fan of MOTO for a couple of years now and I just hope they get their act together soon.  

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