Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The facts about Android, hardware, locking, and carriers.

Gasp. Bootlocking is the devils work. Why the hell would u make a device based on open sourced code if ur gonna lock it up? Just clearly state it voids the warranty and let us have our fun.
Here's a real example relating to the DroidX. Verizon wanted to give us movies on demand via Blockbuster. Blockbuster told VZW that their content would have to be secure and their app would be guaranteed to remain on the phone (marketing, brand awareness, etc) which in theory means a locked down device. So VZW has to get with Moto to figure out how to prevent users from gaining root.

In reality our devices are locked almost entirely for "our good" but then again "we" represent a very small fraction of users that would rather have something like a bare-bones AOSP ROM that runs fast and does what we want, rather than have Skype or Blockbuster (or Motoblur, Touchwhiz, Sense, etc...) and "we" don't represent a large enough group for the carriers or manufacturers to risk their networks or support for things to change at this point. Hopefully over time our numbers will grow and we

They are not going to continue to subsidize (give us phones at a low cost in exchange for contracts) high-end smartphones AND intentionally leave them unlocked. It's bad business and "open-source" has NOTHING to do with it.

The whole "it's not open if the device is locked" argument is also a load and I'm shocked to see some of the people out there trying to push it. Android is open-source. You can download the source, modify it, build it, and put it on a device. Period, end of story. Not being able to put it on hardware of your choosing is all together another issue and if people are being realistic, not a surprising one. It should be no more expected that Apple would open up their hardware to Android than Moto would open up theirs to "your" version of Android. They all have their reasons (both stability and business/marketing) to lock them down. There are already companies out there building Android devices intended to be open hardware to appeal to folks just like us ( http://synapse-phones.com/ is the first I know of ).

Bottom line? Stop trying to convince yourself that the manufacturers are locking your devices when the ones really responsible are the carriers and they have good reason to do it. Also, realize that Android running on locked hardware doesn't make Android any less open source. You have the ability to find and use hardware of your choosing to run Android as you see fit, with any changes you'd like so long as the hardware was intended for that purpose (and frequently more often since most device get rooted and flashed anyway).

2 comments :

dlsolo said...

Well put. Thanks for sharing this with me. Do you mind if I post your link within my article on Driphter.com?

Michael Richardson said...

I don't think lockdown would kill customization because Android is built for it and a LOT can be done regardless. Even HTC SenseUI is now intentionally themeable (that a word?). I think the devs will continue to find ways around low-level blocks because many enjoy the challenge. The reality is that too many consumers don't even know about what this community does, let alone cares so lockdown will have little impact despite all our screaming about it. I say that Android is still by FAR the least of the evils out there right now. If google isn't careful though, that could change at any time. Anyone else could do with Android what Google with with iOS and one up it. Just my thoughts.

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