HTC to stop locking smartphone bootloader code
OS tweaking to be made easier
Smartphone maker HTC has pledged to stop locking down its handsets' bootloader code, a move that makes it easier to install complete custom operating system releases.
For 'custom operating system releases' read 'not carrier-specific version'.
HTC CEO Peter Chou made the promise on the company's Facebook page, stating: "Today, I'm confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices."
The company made this decision, he said, because of "overwhelmingly customer feedback".
Early HTC smartphones did not sport locked bootloaders, but of late its handsets have, making the process of tinkering with the devcies' software rather harder - though not impossible.
At what point the re-appearance of unlocked bootloaders will appear isn't clear from Chou's statement. Most likely, as HTC ships new handset models, these will come with unlocked bootloaders. Current phones may get bootloader-unlocking updates.
In April this year, Sony Ericsson posted details about unlocking the bootloader code in its 2011 Android-based smartphones. However, the phones themselves will still ship with locked bootloaders. ®
Part of the Holy Trinity
I'm sure the resounding response to this will be "about bloody time!"
Since Android came along I know a lot of technically literate people who deal with their phones on three levels. The phone manufacturer provides hardware and nothing else, the phone company provides the comms and nothing else, and then they bed down with a modding group or two for the OS. If you can do it, it's ideal as then you have fealty to no one supplier and can pick and choose parts of that package as it suits you.
If HTC follow through with this (fully) then they're certainly top of my list as the hardware supplier from now on.
With such a positive experience using CyanogenMod 7 on my HTC Desire HD compared to the stock ROM that shipped with the phone, there is no way I would ever buy an Android phone ever again unless:
a) It was relatively easy to install a custom ROM (ie, unlocked bootloader)
b) A decent custom ROM existed for the phone (ie, CyanogenMod or good alternative)
The difference between the stock ROM and CM7 is night and day, I've even run 'Android Revolution HD' which is just a highly optimised version of the official HTC rom and even it runs rings around the stock one. Clearly HTC didn't spend too much time polishing it.
+ Overlocking and the ability to flash newer radio code is something which I really like.
Listening to Customers?
No wonder their market value is now greater than Nokia's.
I guess HTC can see the value in allowing their customers to play with the technology they've paid for - take note Sony, Apple, Microsoft, (this list is too long!).
The only problem is...
That the carriers will lock the bootloader again when they put all the other branded cack on it no doubt. This will be for unbranded paid up front vanilla phones only.
Still, it is a good start, still using my HTC Hero with few problems thanks the Cyanogen and Villainrom. Got bored of waiting from the quite frankly dog eggs HTC Sense 1.5 version that came with the phone that had many many bugs. Not had the current ROM crash in a long time. Very stable since Google fixed Navi.
Cue howls of protest from the carriers as their vain attempts to be solution providers and purveyors of cruft to the gentry rather than just pipe sellers take another stake to the heart.