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Amazon Quietly Bricked Jailbroken Kindle Devices Last Year

from the taking-money;-building-walls dept

It appears that Amazon is very serious about walling off its garden. Late last year, it pushed out a firmware update for its Amazon Fire TV devices that not only made rooted devices unusable, but prevented Fire TV owners from rolling back firmware to previous, more root-friendly versions. Apparently, Kindle users were also included in this lockdown.

A recent post at Good Reader notes that the latest firmware for Kindles is pretty much identical to its Fire TV firmware, right down to the destruction of functionality.
The new firmware was pushed out to all modern Kindle devices in late November of last year. Anything after version 5.60 will not allow you to hack the firmware and do interesting things like change the screensaver system or install custom apps.
And, like its firmware for the Fire TV, rollback to less hack-resistant firmware is nearly impossible. You can force it back, provided you have a soldering iron (and the willingness to apply it to your device) or you can follow a few not-so-simple steps to take your root access back from Amazon. But once again, it's the company removing functionality for the sole purpose of making devices perform the way Amazon wants them to, rather than leaving these sorts of decisions to those who have purchased the devices.

And it's not as though Kindle owners are receiving any heads up from Amazon about the firmware's plans for their jailbroken devices. No mention of it is made in the firmware's specifications, which only tells you about the (supposedly) good things the update will bring: vague "bug fixes and improvements." Softpedia's hosting page for the latest version (5.6.1) goes into a little more detail, but it only contains a list of slightly-upgraded Amazon features, rather than the limitations the firmware will impose on paying customers.

If you like Amazon's walled garden, the company is more than happy to ensure you never find the gate. If you don't, Amazon is more than happy to step in and brick over any openings. The latter does a huge disservice to paying customers who are looking to get the most out of something they purchased and own, but seems to still somehow "belong" to Amazon.

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  1. icon
    MrTroy (profile), 24 Mar 2015 @ 9:08pm


    Why do people even buy there? It's overpriced, their support/CS is non-existent, and they're so bad at hidden fees that even Visa/MC employees are so mad at them that they'll do a charge-back no questions asked as soon as you mention them.

    Because despite all of these things, and everything else that they do badly and make us hate them...

    1. They make a good device - the e-ink kindles with 3G are currently unbeaten in terms of convenience and quality.
    2. They have enabled more authors to publish more good work than any other single publisher in history. Amazon is nearly solely responsible for a shadow industry that puts as much royalty dollars in authors' pockets as the rest of the publishing industry combined.
    3. Their customer support simply beats many of their competitors. Even if you don't like it, most of the rest of the world is worse.

    If people would only lighten up, they'd just due the horrible death they deserve and someone better can take over.

    Why should people stop using the best option currently available? Someone else can build something better, then everyone will migrate across without needing to moralise about anything.

    So yes, they strongly push for DRM on their content to tie their customers to them. They go too far in trying to protect their IP. But who is better?

    --"Beelzebezos is my dark god"

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