Failure to Launch – HTC’s Bootloader Policy
It is amazing how a company can spend so much time, money, and effort in marketing their new upcoming products with seemingly good results just to royally shoot themselves in the foot shortly before launch. Many manufacturers have done this before, including Sony, Motorola, and even Samsung where the devices they put out are so far beyond locked that some of them are still locked even after being released for well over a year. We have always thought that HTC was that shinning beacon of light that everyone could set sail to when the other “evil” companies locked their products so that we couldn’t tinker with them any longer. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case because as many of you have heard, HTC announced that the bootloaders for the new upcoming devices, which sport Sense 3.0 among many other goodies will be so locked down that it will leave most hackers world wide scratching their heads in disbelief and dismay. To be more precise, the upcoming series of devices will have such things as hardware NAND locks, kernel locks, and signed/crypted radio and bootloader (thanks pulser_g2). Judging from this, it is probably safe to say that the amount of work that HTC has put into these locks is probably the reason why the devices were not released earlier.
HTC seems to be going after the mobile market they once dominated with an incredible amount of lag. Think about the following examples:
- The HTC Flyer is a relatively mild tablet (specs wise) compared to what is already present in the market, yet they are in the process of releasing it at iPad prices;
- They still have to release a dual core device (I know, it is coming with the Sensation, but at a dead 3rd place). Even LG beat them to the race on this department.
- They are releasing phones to try and cater to every single type of character out there. The HTC Chacha??? Give me a break. Let me remind you that every time HTC has tried to cater these kinds of devices, they have failed miserably, yet since Motorola has a few Facebook and Twitter friendly devices out there, they figured they would release them as well, just to be competitive.
It doesn’t end there. Their biggest lag is the fact that now they have decided to do what Sony, Motorola, and Samsung did when they got into this market. Lock the living day lights out of them, and for what? This is a question that I still need to see an answer to, and please spare me the “it is a security concern” story. Not a single person in this gigantic forum of ours has ever complained of being victimized by ID theft or any kind of personal misfortune because of running a custom rom. So, if HTC market analysts and developers are indeed looking at how the competition is structuring their business, they should realize that even Sony, which is widely known for their huge attempts and efforts at locking everything they make, has even begun looking into “developer friendly” (read unlocked) devices.
Earlier today, HTC made a statement in their Facebook page saying that they would look into re-evaluating their policy on locked devices. The more exact wording was their policy on bootloaders, so what about the rest of the stuff that will be locked beyond reach? No statement about that. Thought so… After having used HTC devices for almost 10 years, I can personally tell you that this statement from today will mean absolutely nothing as they will likely not re-engineer their stuff for a while, and will likely claim that because it is a security concern, that they have decided to leave them as such.
Well, HTC… aside from catering to regular end users, by pulling this, you likely just discouraged about 90% of the faithful devs working with your devices. Congratulations! Hopefully, someone in your upper management will read this, along with all the other bad rep you just accumulated across the internet and realize that maybe you shouldn’t lock us out.
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