Motorola Continues to Block Custom ROMs

So the original Motorola Droid is apparently going to be the last device without a digitally signed bootloader from Motorola. What does that mean? Well, it means that there is no flashing of custom recovery images and no easy way of flashing custom ROMs like the majority of Android devices. In a blog post on the Motorola Dev website, they explained their position on custom roms etc. basically saying that if you want to flash custom ROMs, “we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes. At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers, and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.”

I don’t think Motorola realizes just how many “end consumers” love to flash custom ROMs (XDA Developers, our own site, and many others could attest to that). They are shooting themselves in the foot in my opinion. The benefit of the custom ROMs for consumers are new UI’s, optimization, customization beyond belief (just look at any Cyanogen ROM), full backups, overclocking, extra RAM (via Swap), and so much more. And as far as the manufacturer’s are concerned, all of these added features cost them NOTHING. The developers who make these custom ROMs work for donations (if that, some won’t even except them) that people who use their ROMs are generally happy to give. Motorola doesn’t have to pay them, and they are making their devices better, why wouldn’t Motorola want this?

In their blog post, they go on to state all the legal jargon about how they aren’t doing anything against the open source agreements (including GPLv2, etc.) to stop people from yelling saying if they lock the bootloader, then it isn’t “open source”. We know that they can lock the bootloader if they really want, my question isn’t if it goes against being open source, but just why, as a business decision, they decided to do it. What harm comes from giving an unlocked bootloader and even root access for that matter if you provide a disclaimer saying enabling it will void your software warranty (as the Nexus One does etc)? What does Motorola have to lose?

Anyone else think this is dumb of any manufacturer to do?

Anyone else think that more manufacturers should go the way of the Nokia N900, and just provide root access out of the box? Didn’t seem to hurt Nokia any…

Hit the source link for the full blog post from Motorola.

PS That isn’t too say we CAN’T load custom ROMs… Just check out our How To Root the Milestone, Load a Custom ROM on the Milestone, and our Custom ROMs for the Milestone section. The Milestone has a locked bootloader as well, we get around it by loading custom ROMs through ADB and Nandroid Backup. But this method still doesn’t allow us to load custom recovery images and makes for a much harder way of creating or loading custom ROMs.

Source via Androidandme

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17 responses to “Motorola Continues to Block Custom ROMs”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Edmond Wright. Edmond Wright said: RT @theunlockr: : Motorola Continues to Block Custom ROMs […]

  2. James says:

    This is a sad state of affairs for the future of Moto. I like swapping ROMs and building kernels, my wife does not. Yet I made sure the phone we purchased for her was “open” to the option. I understand that they want consumers to purchase new phones for the latest and greatest not be able to get a custom ROM that brings them right back up to speed (i.e. the G1) – but that is flawed logic. Those who tinker tend to upgrade regardless. I had a G1 for a while – it still works but I chose to buy a Droid based on specs, not too long after I decided to buy a Nexus One based on specs etc. Unlocking the bootloader will not prevent anyone from upgrading to new hardware at regular intervals. Give us real reasoning behind this decision to encrypt the bootloader. I would have upgraded to the Droid X too – but not now. Not if this is going to be the case. I am sure many others are in the same boat.

    In short, people just won’t buy the device at all.

  3. Very sad but I have to say I saw this coming when I bought the Milestone and all the issues with it. The moral of the story for me is that Motorola had this golden opportunity to do the best of both worlds. They could have offered a choice like the Nexus One does. Do this or do this. They could have built both great consumer phones and also extended their user base by providing phones that users actually own and not just rent until they get tired of how locked down everything is. Shame on you Moto. This choice will come back to haunt you in the lack of future customers. We want to be able to exercise our freedom to flash other ROMs; extend the phones to new horizons. You could have made a difference. Now you are just different.

  4. A. Nonymous says:

    I love my Nokia N900. That is all.

  5. Marcel says:

    I will never but another MOTOROLA product again, bad business decision in my option. The other manufatures are not going to these lengths to limit use of theitr products.

  6. amack10 says:

    haha the moto fail

  7. fraz says:

    Ha. It’s why I bought my Nokia N900. I think that model would have languished in obscurity without it.
    And remember it’s the techsavvy that play with this, and will be swayed by it, are also likely help shape the opinions of others around them.
    Whats Motorola got to lose? Fail!

  8. Mike says:

    Count me out on the Droid X too, maybe I’ll take another look at the Incredible.

  9. […] Okay, great. But I think the debate yesterday was misdirected. The problem is not that the Droid X becomes a brick when hacked, but that it cannot be hacked. While the lack of a phone-killing security feature means hackers are at a greater liberty to tinker, they won’t get anywhere.¬†Motorola Milestone, the original Droid’s overseas sibling, has the same digitally-signed bootloader, and its security measures haven’t been broken yet. There are workarounds for¬†loading custom ROMs on the Milestone, but they are difficult to perform, and there are other drawbacks, as explained by TheUnlockr. […]

  10. James says:

    I believe that Motorola is going to lose a lot of business thanks to this. I for one would never buy one of their devices as they just feel clunky anyways.

  11. IceTrey says:

    1. Custom ROMS allow you to do things the service provider wants to charge you for, i.e. tethering.

    2. Some not tech savvy moron will decide they want to get in on the custom ROM bandwagon, screw up their phone and then call Motorola support complaining about it and then probably post on the net how Motorola products suck and so on.

    • TheUnlockr says:


      1. Most carriers don’t care about tethering (take the Nexus One approved carriers like T-Mobile here in the US, who knows perfectly well that the phone can tether it’s connection through Android 2.2 WITHOUT rooting), and those that do care have already begun implementing data usage limits anyway so they don’t care if you tether (just means you get overages faster).
      2. As with any custom ROM or rooting (and perfectly exemplified in the HTC Nexus One with it’s built in warnings etc) you are voiding your warranty. HTC has no problem doing this themselves, and we have even seen them still honor warranties on rooted nexus ones (which have an unlock symbol on boot up to show HTC that it has been rooted) when it comes to hardware malfunctions (since rooting has nothing to do with say the trackball falling out, etc. and HTC understands that).

  12. vec says:

    motorola: you suck.

  13. Stilemahbike says:

    Using a custom rom on a phone will unlock certain features that a wireless provider may want to charge you extra for. To use an example Verizon charges 20 more on their data plans monthly to use internet sharing on their wireless devices. I speculate that this is a source of pressure on smartphone manufacturers to protect against the use of custom roms on their devices.

  14. […] custom ROMs on successive generations of their phones. They have even created bootloaders that will brick the phone if they find an unsanctioned ROM. While HTC has been friendly towards the custom ROM community, […]

  15. Ummbaby says:

    Its not motorola , its pressure from verizon and their family friendly audience. Think AOL users,ughhh. Nokia isn’t hurting? I don’t see anybody with an N series. Conform, because you will be assimilated.

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