If you’re not familiar with what ‘rooting’ your phone means or what root access gives you, it’s not really that different from being a complete Administrator of an account a PC. Without having administrative rights, you are limited in what you can to the computer itself. If you were to bring a phone into a carrier’s location they would not be obligated to support you and your issues if you have ‘rooted’ the device. In the same breath these carriers are selling laptops, netbooks, notebooks or whatever the hip marketing term happens to be at that moment (I am going with “notebook”), with windows installed that have administrator accounts that have the highest elevation of access to the operating system. These notebooks have existing data cards that allow them access to the the carrier’s network and use their services in the same way that a phone can browse the web with even more freedom and less restrictions. In addition to the cards that are pre-installed, you can purchase a usb device or wireless access point that also gives the same access to their network from any other device. Devices with administrative rights and root access and any other elevated accounts that might apply. Therefore, it seems to be an extreme case of double-speak when carriers refuse to work on “rooted” phones while they have these notebooks that allow full the equivalent within the Windows operating system.
Phones are not that dissimilar from PC’s in today’s market. They browse the web, install applications, edit documents, video and photos. In my opinion, they are they same devices with a different form factor. If you feel the same way that I do in my comparison then can you imagine if other internet service providers restricted access to your devices on their network? Here is an example: you purchased your new Apple Macbook Pro for $1500 and you call Comcast to start service with them for your home Internet. They told you that you could put your device on their network only if it met the minimum requirements, and one of these requirements is that you can not have access to the entire machine’s operating system or administrator accounts. This would not only outrage most consumers, but it would severely hurt Comcast’s business and revenue streams. Many folks have made the argument that since these devices are being subsidized by the carriers and being offered at a significant discount that the carriers can restrict access to the device. With this being an interesting argument that holds some validity, they are still selling notebooks with subsidized prices and thus making a nullified argument. In addition to this argument, if I own my device and purchased it without a discount from the carrier and did not sign a contract to remain a customer for an agreed upon amount of time, should I not be allowed administrative rights to my device? This is just a clear example of the deception and double speak that we receive form carriers on a regular basis in an effort for them to turn the largest possible profit.
What do the Carriers have to lose?
Why the big fuss? Wireless carriers are holding fast to the “various services” model of rates and fees, while smartphones are making it increasingly apparent that the carrier is nothing more than a means to an end: the sending and receiving of bytes. Manufacturers have to cave to the demands of the carrier to receive subsidy pricing benefits – and thus implement the security measures needed to meet those demands.
So how does this relate to rooting? It’s all dollars and senselessness. What do I get with a rooted and/or custom ROM-ed Android phone that a carrier doesn’t want me to?
It’s important that you, the reader, realize you are getting completely hosed down. Not only do you have to pay for a monthly fee for data, but for minutes, and for a variety of other “bundled in services”, but for more. You also have to pay a separate bill for your home internet too. And of course that’s not including digital TV. From the carriers’ position, this is a wonderful state of affairs. Why not charge consumers three different ways for access to their data? That’s really all it is – data.
So the biggest question might be, how can we put an end to these poor policies and restrictions? Well, I don’t have the answer to that, but I believe if we stir up enough noise and refuse to accept these policies as users we can force companies to reform. We need a carrier to step up and take initiative and show the others how this can be accomplished, while maintaining profits and customers. Until that day comes I think we can try our best to continue to break these constraints and support the developers that work very hard at giving us the most access possible to our devices. The next time you use someone’s binary to gain administrative rights to your device, why not buy them a beer to throw them a few dollars just to say thank you.