Motorola Does Openness Wrong; Bricks Your Droid X If You Tamper

from the that's-not-open dept

Part of the key selling point of the whole concept of Android-based smartphones was that they were open to tinkering. Apparently, Motorola thinks somewhat differently about that. paperbag was the first of a whole bunch of you to point to variations on the story that Motorola has put a thing called "eFuse" on the Droid X which will effectively brick your phone if you try to mess with the software.

If you look around, a lot of people who said they would originally buy a Droid X are saying they won't do it now, just on principle. Bricking a phone that someone bought, just because they want to change the software themselves is pretty abhorrent. Motorola's response to the concerns isn't winning over many people either. They flat-out say that if you don't like it, you should buy another phone:
We understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with Android system development and re-flashing phones. For these developers, 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.

The use of open source software, such as the Linux kernel or the Android platform, in a consumer device does not require the handset running such software to be open for re-flashing. We comply with the licenses, including GPLv2, for each of the open source packages in our handsets. We post appropriate notices as part of the legal information on the handset and post source code, where required, at http://opensource.motorola.com. Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years. This practice is driven by a number of different business factors. When we do deviate from our normal practice, such as we did with the DROID, there is a specific business reason for doing so. We understand this can result in some confusion, and apologize for any frustration.
I think they're missing the point. The fact is most consumers won't tinker with the underlying software of their phone, but if they do want to, they should be allowed to do so without having Motorola destroy the device.

Filed Under: bricking, droid x, efuse, openness
Companies: motorola


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  1. identicon
    corkorado, 15 Jul 2010 @ 4:44pm

    misleading article

    Mike,
    Not sure if you realized this but the message from Motorola you linked to is dated 2-12-2010 and in response to the Milestone being locked in Europe. There may be similarities to a situation with the DroidX but this is clearly not Motorola's response to the eFuse controversy started by the mobilecrunch article.

    In fact, this report says several previous phones have used this same technology but it hasn't been put into use.

    I'm not a fan of locking down hardware - I don't really see the point - but lets wait until there are actual reports of phones being bricked before sounding the alarm.

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