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Motorola Sticks To Guns On Locking Down Android 600

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-it-or-leave-it dept.
jeffmeden writes "'These aren't the droids you're looking for' proclaims Motorola, maker of the popular Android smartphones such as the Droid 2 and Droid X. At least, not if you have any intention of loading a customized operating system. According to Motorola's own YouTube channel, 'If you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we'll continue with our strategy that is working thanks.' The strategy they are referring to is a feature Motorola pioneered called 'e-fuse', the ability for the phone's CPU to stop working if it detects unauthorized software running."
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Motorola Sticks To Guns On Locking Down Android

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  • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:39PM (#34935062) Homepage

    Hundreds of thousands of potential costumers go "ok."

    • by Aerorae (1941752)

      Right. Hundreds of thousands.

      Not millions. So an enormous company like Moto can do without them no problem.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:05PM (#34935702) Homepage Journal

        Are we really so weak that we absolutely cannot do without a smart phone until manufacturers actually start giving us what we want? I mean, we're the goddamn customers. Vote with your feet.

        Some company's going to do the right thing and that's the phone you buy. That's all. You're not going to die if you wait a few more months to buy an Android phone. Or, you can do what I did, and buy a wi-fi only handheld device and use your regular phone because who wants a phone with 4 hours of battery life anyway? Do you really want to have to run to an AC outlet as soon as the plane lands so you can make a call just because you wanted to watch two movies on a cross-country flight?

        There is power in being a consumer, and it's astounding that people have been so diddled by advertisement and marketing voodoo that they won't even consider using that power to get what they want.

        • by gmack (197796) <{ten.erifrenni} {ta} {kcamg}> on Thursday January 20, 2011 @05:45AM (#34937520) Homepage Journal

          They have that and it's called GeeksPhone [geeksphone.com]. The price for mine was better than Google's developer handset and even though it originally came with Android 1.5 they have provided 2.2 (Froyo) and 2.3(Gingerbread). It comes rooted and their forums will happily help you with whatever mod you want to attempt.

          I no longer care what Motorolla or anyone else does because I have a phone that does what I want.

        • by Haeleth (414428) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @06:58AM (#34937774) Journal

          Some company's going to do the right thing

          I admire your faith in humanity.

          Or, you can do what I did, and buy a wi-fi only handheld device and use your regular phone

          Which is totally useless if the reason you are interested in a smartphone is so you can, I dunno, use the internet everywhere or something. Maybe you live in some magical land with free wifi everywhere and you never go travelling at all, but most of us aren't so lucky.

          Do you really want to have to run to an AC outlet as soon as the plane lands so you can make a call just because you wanted to watch two movies on a cross-country flight?

          You watch movies on your phone? How strange. Most of us use the movie-watching device handily built into the seat in front, or a laptop if we want to bring our own.

          There is power in being a consumer

          Yeah, like there's power in being a voter. But I don't see many supporters of minority parties celebrating because their interests are being represented in Congress.

          • by sveinungkv (793083) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @08:19AM (#34938110)

            There is power in being a consumer

            Yeah, like there's power in being a voter. But I don't see many supporters of minority parties celebrating because their interests are being represented in Congress.

            The beauty of the free market compared to democracy is that you don't need to be in the majority to get what you want. The majority can buy from Motorola and others while you can freely buy from the those that cater to you. Personally I have an OpenMoko Freerunner [openmoko.com]. If you want something newer you could have look at GeeksPhone, [geeksphone.com] Nokia 900 [nokia.com] or one of the many other phones out there to see if they are free enough for you.

        • Are we really so weak that we absolutely cannot do without a smart phone until manufacturers actually start giving us what we want?

          As with most things in life, it's not that simple.

          This isn't a question about what we want versus what we don't want. It's a question about what we want versus what we want more. If there's a product out that does most of what I'd like it to do, in most of the ways I'd like it to do them, do you really expect me to not purchase it in the hope that the manufacturer will read my mind and somehow know I'm holding out for a couple function changes? Boycott doesn't work in and of itself.

    • And I go to all my friends "Samsung".

    • by chaffed (672859) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:44PM (#34935112) Homepage

      However, for that to happen, people need to care.

      For the vast majority of the smart phone crowd, they do not care. Just as long as they can get that "urgent" work email, post a picture of their lunch and tweet about how tired they are in the evening.

      • by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:37PM (#34935512)

        And this apathy is what they're all banking on. They can tighten down the screws and leverage the masses an excuse to do so. This is true for Microsoft, Apple, Motorola, and every vendor that forces you to root.

        They want to do this to PCs, and I expect the push and attack on standard, uncrippled PCs to step up in the next few years. It's far more profitable that way.

      • by dlgeek (1065796) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:43PM (#34935556)
        In other words, a manufacturer is selling a product that does exactly what the vast majority of it's customers want.
      • by AchilleTalon (540925) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:11PM (#34935732) Homepage
        Since the vast majority of the smart phone crowd just don't care, why did Motorola spent so much time to make sure they have a technology to prevent it? I mean, if peoples don't care, there is no reason to make sure they can't. And for the rest of us, what's the problem?
    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Most consumers don't even have a clue what is being discussed, or care. As long as they can make calls, surf and buy stuff they wont know the difference.

    • This approach works for some fruit related company, anyway I do not see how that fact affects average Joe Consumer, you know the 99% of all buyers.
    • by TheRealGrogan (1660825) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:57PM (#34935220)

      I despise Motorola and their rubbish. My parents had motorola phones previously, and they were so proprietary they wanted $90 for a program just to let us transfer pictures from the phone to the computer.

      I dicked around (for hours) trying to get a home grown solution working and finally just gave up. It involved installing a driver from motorola (deeply buried on their web site), and a third party app for accessing it. All it did was hang. What I learned (but wasn't sure if I believed) was that even the USB cable was proprietary and while it was the same connection as a camera cable, it was wired differently.

      So I don't particularly care what they say and do, there will be no more Motorola devices in this household anyway.

      The folks have since switched to Blackberries.

      Long before this, I hated Motorola for their shitty modems. Some of the worst rubbish that I have ever had the pleasure of tossing in the garbage.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        I despise Motorola and their rubbish. My parents had motorola phones previously, and they were so proprietary they wanted $90 for a program just to let us transfer pictures from the phone to the computer.

        Most of the BS there was related to the carriers telling motorola what the software could and could not do. The carriers wanted to sell ring tones, and screen backgrounds. So motorola's phones that were more than capable were told not to. And the software that let you do anything at all to bypass the carrie

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:32AM (#34936278)

        Motorola does not want to lock them down, the carrier(s) are forcing them to. I have inside info from a dev about this, and I've argued with him about it at length angrily. Unfortunately, their hands are tied, it's the carrier's way or the highway.

        If you want to be upset at anyone, be angry at e.g. Verizon. People need to fight the carriers on this, it's about our freedom!!

        • People need to fight the carriers on this, it's about our freedom!!

          You guys are really sucking the life out of that word

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      Hundreds, probably. Thousands, possible. Hundreds of thousands? Delusions of grandeur much?

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:27PM (#34935444)

        There are something like a million downloads of cyanogen mod. Even if that is the same folks downloading each release you are still looking at hundreds of thousands. That is one ROM, not all of them.

        • There are something like a million downloads of cyanogen mod. Even if that is the same folks downloading each release you are still looking at hundreds of thousands. That is one ROM, not all of them.

          I was going to say the same thing. Sooner or later some vendor is going to release a handset with Cyanogenmod on it. Until then, if I can't run my Cyanogen, I'm not buying your handset.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by udoschuermann (158146)

      At least they're not pulling a Sony on us, selling the things as open and then revoking the ability, after they scammed us out of our money. But it looks like I will not be buying from Motorola again from now on.

      I wonder what company wants to go on my (permanent) blacklist next...

  • by intellitech (1912116) * on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:40PM (#34935068)
    Don't test the masses, especially the ones that know what they're doing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865)

      The ones who know what they're doing aren't the masses. They're the ignorable minority.

      • The /. masses, though..
      • by mug funky (910186) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:22PM (#34935822)

        i get quite annoyed at the constant arrogance and elitism on /.

        sorry to burst your bubble - this isn't an elite site, and the "99% of the masses" argument is pure shit that i hear everywhere all the time, in many different disciplines.

        whenever someone asks me to recommend them a TV, the conversation will lead to "nobody would ever notice that", but yet we're talking about it and a choice about what to buy is being made based on it.

        what do the masses do when they need advice? they ask that nerd friend of theirs. if the nerd has communication skills slightly above the lower end of the Autism Spectrum, the masses will even get a useful answer.

        be honest, how many times have you heard a friend say something to the effect of "i'm looking for a smartphone but i don't want an iPhone... what should i get?".

        consider each time someone asks that as a lost sale for Motorola...

        i don't think it'll kill their business, but their overall crap products certainly are having an effect, and political issues such as this (yes! political! not technical and therefore outside the grasp of the average simian on the street!) will certainly make a large dent in the long run.

    • by teh31337one (1590023) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:59PM (#34935246)
      The e-fuse has a 1024 bit RSA key. Good luck trying to brute force that.

      But if you want to waste electricity, you can sign up for the efforts to brute force Motorola Milestone [xda-developers.com] - their first phone to feature this draconian lockdown.

  • by Ariastis (797888) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:41PM (#34935082)

    A company who tells its clients to go buy from someone else is usually on the way out...

    • by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:18PM (#34935388)

      Apple have this exact attitude and they just posted a record revenue of $26bn for this quarter, beating Wall St estimates by $2bn. Looking at their iPhone sales alone, they are the largest mobile phone vendor in the world by revenue. They have $60bn in cash reserves and no debt.

      All other things being equal, sure, more customers = more profit. But all other things are rarely equal, so summing an entire company's future up into one single factor is idiotic.

      • by vikstar (615372) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:04PM (#34935688) Journal

        Apple has the opposite attitude. They don't say "buy elsewhere" they say "by our stuff instead because ..." and then continue with 20% truth.
        Motorola's mistake is that they're telling people to "buy elsewhere" instead of just lying to everyone like Apple does.

        • by rsborg (111459) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @04:08AM (#34937140) Homepage

          Motorola plays in the commodity Android space. You know, where features rule and competition is fierce.

          Apple doesn't play by those rules and makes up their own... but they write their own OS, design their own chip, and create a unique product out of the whole mess.

          Apple "gets away" with their arrogance because they have something other companies don't... and consumers like what they have.

          What has Moto done lately that HTC or Samsung can't match?

  • "Then buy elsewhere" (Score:5, Informative)

    by SquirrelDeth (1972694) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:42PM (#34935096)
    Fine I will.dumbasses
  • Hopefully, Xoom won't be the same. Andy Rubin said that Google are using a Motorola device to build honeycomb, and it's likely the Xoom. If it is, it won't be e-fused.
    • by green1 (322787)

      I second that, I have a Motorola Milestone right now, and because of the valiant efforts of others, and despite Motorola, I have it rooted and love it.

      I have been drooling over the Xoom and hope to be able to buy one as soon as possible... but if I can't have root, I may have to try for a different tablet.

      I'm sick and tired of companies who think they can tell me what to do with MY hardware after I have purchased it from them, it isn't theirs anymore, I'm ok if they won't support any changes I make, but I'm

  • Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fotbr (855184) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:45PM (#34935122) Journal

    Let 'em fail. It wasn't that long ago that motorola could barely GIVE their phones away.

  • by Proudrooster (580120) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:45PM (#34935126) Homepage
    Why would Motorolla do this? Are they experiencing warranty returns on bricked phones? Are carriers pressuring them not to allow unlocks? What is the driver behind this decision? I think it is reasonable to put in a warranty void e-fuse if the phone gets bricked by another O/S, but why do they care?
    • Carriers who don't want you using more bandwidth than you are paying for.

      • by Spykk (823586) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:07PM (#34935306)
        e-fuse doesn't stop you from rooting your phone and installing wireless-tether. e-fuse is there so that Motorola can stop releasing kernel updates when the droid 3 comes out so that you are forced to buy a new phone if you want the latest version of android.
        • "e-fuse is there so that Motorola can stop releasing kernel updates when the droid 3 comes out so that you are forced to buy a new phone if you want the latest version of android"

          They don't need e-fuse for that; they simply either cancel any update plans for the phone or make you wait so long for an update that your contract expires before they deploy it to the phone. I've had this happen with my Milestone and x720 and believe me that these will be the LAST Motorola phones that I buy for myself or my family

  • So who is more ROM friendly? Samsung? LG? HTC? Someone else?

    • by nschubach (922175)

      I hear the Samsung are alright if you can get past the RFS (not Reiser) issue.

      • RFS is only the beginning of the problems, and has been eliminated. (Voodoo, speedmod, z4mod, tegrak etc)

        Propitiatory drivers and Samsung messing around with the code are the main problems

    • by teh31337one (1590023) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:02PM (#34935272)
      Go for the Nexus S - they're the most dev friendly. You'll also find that HTC phones are also supported pretty well, even though they have a similarly draconian nandlock in place. It's just been cracked :)
    • by jonwil (467024)

      Get a Nokia N900. No firmware locks at all and more open than any Android handset.

      Oh and if you do for some reason want Android, there is a N900 port at all.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:49PM (#34935150)

    This is not locking down Android, this is locking down a Motorola Handset.

    Hardware lock down, not software. Pretty big distinction.

    But Motorola has jumped the shark. HTC are offering better handsets and MotoBlur is a complete joke. I liked my Milestone too, but due to Motorola's insistence on locking it down I wont be buying the Milestone 2. HTC Desire Z looks a lot better.

    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:35PM (#34935504)

      What's the practical difference though ? The big advantage of Android compared to iPhone, I'm always told, is that it's open and there are so many different models to choose from. But what remains of those advantages when you have to eliminate a lot of phones because they are just as locked down and then have to research the remaining models to see which can be rooted, what the difficulties are, etc. ?

      • by h4rr4r (612664) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:02PM (#34935676)

        That you can get a Nexus and have the open experience. No iPhone model like that.

      • by mjwx (966435)

        What's the practical difference though ?

        Please tell me I don't have to explain this to you.

        Sigh

        Because other Android models are not affected. Very big difference there.

        The big advantage of Android compared to iPhone, I'm always told, is that it's open and there are so many different models to choose from. But what remains of those advantages when you have to eliminate a lot of phones because they are just as locked down

        Well this sends a message to the manufacturer that something is not right with their prod

      • by thegarbz (1787294)
        The point is there is more than 1 single choice. There isn't for the iPhone. There's MANY phones out there that will literally let you install anything. I could write my own program right now and have it running on my phone without issue and it's not a Google Nexus S. I may get told what OS I run on my not rooted phone, but that's where things end. I'm free to install what I want. Heck just for giggles I typed "porn" into the app market search box. 180 results, one of which turns the phone into a vibrator,
  • For all of you who are tech savvy at all, the message is clear "Buy Elsewhere". I for one fully plan on joining MOTO in their boycott of..... MOTO. Smart move guys!

  • by data2 (1382587)

    The Atrix looked exactly like what I needed, especially with the netbook like dock. But if they are so intent on not getting my money, then they won't. I was already doubting my decision, because I would like the Android version after the current one, and now the risk is just too great for not getting it.

  • It's tough to keep track of which phone's a Motorola, since the companies tend to brand stuff weirdly in the Cell phone world.
  • I always have liked Samsung and HTC products, never had a problem with Motorola since Ive never owned one, but now I won't ever buy one. Congrats Motorola.
  • by Vap1d- (461834) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @09:57PM (#34935226)

    Seems that sentiment was pretty quickly retracted. http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=495971028278 [facebook.com]

    • As well as a compromise mentioned...http://www.androidcentral.com/motorola-disavows-youtube-comment-says-its-working-bootloader-compromise
  • It doesn't take a statement from the company. Just look at the devices they are offering. Users who want to run custom firmware aren't the kind to walk in and say "one android please". You do basic research. You check if custom ROMS are known to work. You don't buy Motorola.

  • What are they hoping to accomplish here? What do they have to lose by people installing other O/S'es on their hardware? They are spending all this time and money engineering a solution to... what? Keeping legitimate consumers from wanting to buy their product? I have a Moto Droid, and was planning on upgrading to the Droid X, but I will most certainly be going HTC for my next phone purchase.
    • by Asic Eng (193332)
      They want a way to obsolete phones. Users might want to have a new Android version, and Motorola wants to be able to force a new sale. Maybe not every time, but whenever they choose to. That's also something ordinary users can understand, even though they might not care about installing some custom version of the OS: this phone may not be upgradable, a phone from another company would be.
  • Sure, the kernel must continue to be GPLv2, but the user mode components can still be GPLv3, and it is compatible with the Apache license.

  • by pslam (97660) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:15PM (#34935370) Homepage Journal

    The strategy they are referring to is a feature Motorola pioneered called 'e-fuse', the ability for the phone's CPU to stop working if it detects unauthorized software running.

    Oh not this bullshit again. This was first published by an ill-informed "hacker" a while back and regurgitated by every blog in the world with no fact checking.

    • Here's what an e-fuse is: a write-once programmable bit.
    • Here's what they're typically used for: unique IDs (serial number), RAM repair (mark bad rows etc), feature selection, keys, miscellaneous factory config things.
    • Here's what you find with e-fuses in them: almost every CPU in the world, probably all of the SoCs used by Motorola's competitors, probably every SoC in every cell phone.
    • Here's what they're not used for: bricking devices.

    Motorola has even stated very clearly that they never intend to completely brick a device if it detects an unauthorized ROM. It'll just need restoring. The SoCs Motorola uses are in no way pioneering e-fuses. Someone just read a gigantic amount of conspiracy into the tiniest of press release. This is OLD technology. Can this lie please go away?

  • Update to article (Score:4, Informative)

    by Georules (655379) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @10:52PM (#34935602)
    This article needs an update. Motorola has already officially apologized [droid-life.com] for the youtube admin's tone.
    • by John Jamieson (890438) on Thursday January 20, 2011 @12:36AM (#34936300)

      I think they said they were sorry... is that the same as an apology?

      I really think they are only sorry that this is a big black eye, and is going to hurt in the morning.

      "The response does not reflect the views of Motorola." can be translated as "our responses should not piss off customers"

      This just seems like damage control to me, an apology means they are sorry about What they have done, not just sorry about the consequences of a poorly worded but truthful response.

  • by 2Bits (167227) on Wednesday January 19, 2011 @11:09PM (#34935724)
    With all these manufacturers working hard on locking down, why is Nokia still sleeping on N900 and its successor and Meego/Maemo? Nokia should have taken its leadership with a series of N900 followups. That thing is the best ever.
    • You might want to hold a mirror up over Nokia there.

      Yes the body is still warm, but that doesn't mean much.

      Oddly, I think you'll find that the rigor mortis was cause of death, not caused BY death...

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