Has Motorola burned all bridges with the modding community?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| January 31, 2012

Motorola and locked bootloaders. Motorola and future plans to unlock bootloaders. It sounds like the plot points of a major motion picture drama. Or maybe just a daytime soap opera. Either way, the end result, which we're looking at today, hasn't been the shiniest of things to look at for Motorola. Which is odd, considering how many eggs Motorola has put into the Android basket. All in all, it seems completely counterproductive to me to set your sights on the Android market, but at the same time completely aim to shut out the development  and modding community while you do it.

But let's be completely clear here: Motorola is burning bridges left and right with the modding community, and they aren't looking back while they do it, either. Let's take a look back and see where this all started, shall we? Way back in June of last year, it became public knowledge that Motorola had every intention of unlocking bootloaders of already released devices (where appropriate), and also unlocking bootloaders for future devices. That was supposed to start happening later in 2011, but considering you're reading this article today, and have read Taylor's poignant question earlier in the month, we can safely surmise that that didn't happen.

Owners of Motorola devices didn't take that lightly, though. Petitions started showing up all over the Internet, specifically in some of the most commonly used forums available to the development and modding community. But, while those petitions are still going around, and people are still voicing their opinions on the subject, it doesn't look like Motorola is paying all that much attention. They are listening, though, and that seems clear.

I say they are listening because the company has recently announced that they will be trying to appease the development and modding community out there by releasing the "Developer's Edition" of the Motorola RAZR. So, yes, Motorola is listening, but they aren't paying attention. If they were paying attention (or cared, as it were), then they would have a clear understanding that releasing another phone is not the thing that people want. It doesn't even make any sense!

If Motorola weren't in the position they were in right now, and if they didn't seem to have an issue following through with their plans, then releasing a developer's phone wouldn't be a problem. After all, that means you're not only giving the general public what they want (which would consist of folks who want to dabble in altering their phone, but who don't do it extensively), but also providing a developer phone for the passionate devs and modders out there. That's what you could consider covering all the bases, and that's what Motorola is not doing.

And for the life of me, none of this makes any sense. Even back in June, when Motorola first made the announcement, the stipulation was the carriers. They had to be okay with the unlocked bootloaders. It's a well known fact that carriers aren't always "okay" with this type of stuff, always citing security as their main reason. Whatever the reason (it could very well have to do with security), what Motorola is doing with all of this is the wrong way to handle it. If the carriers are the ones causing a problem with this unlocked bootloader situation, then you let everyone know. Simple as that. Where you're at right now is not where you want to be. Not with an entire movement against you. Right now, right this moment, Motorola, for all intents and purposes you are being protested against because of this.

So fix it. Even if that means you come out and say that Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile, metroPCS, and US Cellar --along with every other carrier out there with Android phones on their network-- are telling you that you can't unlock bootloaders on devices. The Motorola forums may not be the best place for information, but it's an open forum. It is a constant state of open dialogue for you, Motorola, so use it. Verizon says you can't unlock the bootloader on the DROID RAZR? Okay, pass that information along to the rest of the DROID RAZR owners out there. You know why? Because you told them, all of them, that you would be unlocking bootloaders late last year.

Fix it, Motorola. And quickly.

Products mentioned