egzthunder1 · Sep 20, 2012 at 09:30 am

No Devs Allowed? Kindle Fire HD Family Locked Down

As is customary with most devices from major manufacturers, the new Kindle Fire HD brothers are coming out of Amazon’s womb very much locked down. Well, not just locked down—that would be a bit of an understatement. The KFHD family is beyond being locked, and according to Amazon’s engineers, the new system is impossible to crack. XDA Recognized Contributor kinfauns has started a discussion thread in the newly added forum to talk about and discuss the possible cracks available (if any) on these devices.

The original KF was a rather tough cookie to crack, as Amazon tried to prevent people from using these devices to do things outside of the intended usage (which in this case was their digital “store front”). Since the original (or first generation) was cracked with root and custom ROMs  flying all over the web, the designers of the device were tasked with preventing this from happening again. From Amazon’s perspective, it makes perfect sense to protect the devices from rooting and general hackery due to quite a few obvious points:

  • Services used in an unintended manner such as tethering
  • Direct access to tons of media content that could be hacked and transferred to others (piracy)
  • Warranty claims (the previous hacking method on the original KF actually ended up bricking quite a few devices)
All these reasons are similar in nature to those used by Apple in their (futile) attempts to curb all of the above. After all, we have to remember that Apple and Amazon are in it to sell you content (thanks Jeff for that analysis). The only issue is the fact that the tab is built on the Android platform, which caters to developers for the most part. Lets face it, anyone wanting a simple eReader would likely go with one of the e-ink versions (cheaper, easier on the eyes, lighter, battery lasts forever, etc). This makes us wonder a bit about the market that they are trying to target with the KFHD.
The KFHD7 seems to be designed to be a straight-up competitor to the Google Nexus 7. This device is geared towards people who want to have rich media experience in a medium sized format (with similar access to content to the KF) while also serving as a development platform for the Android community. Based on specs alone (processor, screen, memory, etc), the KFHD7 is geared towards the same audience. So, why lock out a good chunk of your potential customers by “making it more secure?” It would be interesting to see numbers accompanying the aforementioned reasons for locking the device to see if they actually justify adding such tight security. Scaring people away with extreme security measures is not exactly a good sales technique, particularly if the target audience is keen on trying to make the devices they buy into something a tad more usable.
In any case, if you happen to have any insight into the new bootloader structure and the extra processor security added to the KF (and even the second generation KF), please leave some feedback in the thread. I guess that Amazon engineers have not been around our site too much. And as such, they fail to realize that the words “impossible” and “hack” cannot be used in the same sentence around here.
Please leave us your thoughts.

 The MLO (xloader, 1st stage bootloader) is signed and the boot header is the type used for HS (high security) OMAP devices with the M-Shield turned on. If the setup is comparable to the Nook Tablet, this is not good news for those hoping to modify these devices in one way or another. The Nook Tablet’s exploit was to utilize the external sdcard as an alternate boot device and that doesn’t really help with these 2nd generation KFs.

You can find more information in the original thread.

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[Thanks willverduzco for the tip!]
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egzthunder1

egzthunder1 is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. I have been an active member of xda-developers since 2005 and have gone through various roles in my time here. I am Former Portal Administrator, and currently part of the administrator team while maintaining my writer status for the portal. In real life, I am a Chemical Engineer turned Realtor in the Miami area. View egzthunder1's posts and articles here.
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