Linked by gsyoungblood on Tue 20th Jul 2010 18:01 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless On July 15th the latest Android super-phone was released by Motorola and Verizon Wireless. All hail the Droid X. The release was not without controversy though. The Droid X, while greatly raising the bar for Android phones in general, does so at the expense of the very power users and community that made the original Droid the gotta-have phone it became. Alienating this group may have far reaching consequences for Motorola.
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For those of you who are defending Motorola on this one, imagine if you bought a PC with Windows or Linux installed, and they locked it down such that you couldn't upgrade/change the OS until (or even if) the vendor decided they would allow you to upgrade? How long would you put up with that before you started raising hell?

This already happens. When MS releases a new version of Windows, you're often at the mercy of the OEM to release drivers if you want your system supported. You can surf through any major OEMs "support" forums to find complaints from disgruntled users unable to immediately upgrade to the latest and greatest.

As for linux, if you purchase a system with linux pre-installed and it happen to have binary drivers (think Intel Poulsbo or whatever it's called), you're even more screwed since the driver could be tied to a particular kernel version and you're at the mercy of the OEM for updates.

Motorola isn't out to intentionally screw the fractional portion of Android users that play with custom ROMs. They're most likely yielding to Verizon, the company that turned down exclusivity with the iPhone because Apple wouldn't grant them the control they wanted.

It sucks that Motorola goes to great lengths to lock down the phone, but at the same time, they're not representing the phone as an open platform. If you like what the Droid X offers, buy the phone. If you want to tinker, don't. That simple. There is no explicit or implied sense of entitlement for Motorola to enable one to hack it.

Frankly, for anyone in the droid community to jump on a new phone without waiting to see if the xda-devs can crack it, is simply gambling.

Google offered a high-end phone that was friendly to hackers. It tanked, which is a shame, because I really like my N1. The reality is most people want the benefit of a provider subsidy, and in those cases the vendor will dictate the terms of the platform.

It would be interesting to see the interest if Moto offered an unlocked version of the Droid X at full retail price, that users could switch ROMs at their heart's content. My guess is it would tank. Because frankly the majority of users don't care.

The problem isn't the vendors locking their phones, it's the lack of compatibility with the networks in the US that inhibits true competition. Verizon can dictate the terms of their handsets simply because they are number one and there is no true CDMA competition, who are you going to move your phone to?. In Canada, you can buy an unlocked iPhone from Apple that will work on any of the major providers, but for anyone in the US, it would still be tied to AT&T since it's the only network compatible with the 3G frequencies, lest you settle for Edge on TMob, etc. Most smart phones simply don't have the hardware capacity to move among US networks without offering compromises.

Don't hate the player, hate the system. If the manufacturers could produce a handset that would work on multiple networks to full effect, they'd have more leverage to control the platform. By having to produce distinct models to work with particular networks, they lose that leverage. That's the basic reason Nokia is non-existent in the US market, but prevalent everywhere else.

Moral of the story? Don't by an X if you want to hack, at least until the dev community has found a bypass. Buy an N1 instead. Or wait until the N1 is disco'd, and Google chooses their next developer platform model, which rumour has it will be from Motorola anyways. It will be full price, but if you're looking for a provider subsidy instead, then it will be at the provider's terms.

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