Sprint’s Motorola Photon Has Locked Bootloader

by: Darcy LaCouveeJune 11, 2011
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Oh Motorola, when will you learn? With companies like HTC going on the public record stating that their upcoming phones will be unlocked, it’s quite surprising that Motorola would release the Photon 4G with a locked down bootloader, but alas, they have.  Seems like another case of talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

Despite the outpouring of support, and substantial number of Android enthusiasts protesting such practices via Twitter, Facebook, email (and more),  as well as previous claims that more ‘open hardware is coming’, Motorola is releasing the Photon 4G with a locked down bootloader.

Motorola’s Stance

“As previously communicated, it is our intention to include the unlockable/relockable bootloader in software releases starting in late 2011, where operator and channel partners will allow it. However, this feature is not included in the software found on PHOTON 4G.”


While I am but a simple and ardent follower of all things Android, I think I have an idea why this practice remains the norm: money.

Check out these stats:

These are AT&T’s revenues from wireline voice in the past few years:

  • 2008 – $37.2 billion
  • 2009 – $32.3 billion
  • 2010 – $28.3 billion

If I were AT&T, or any other major telecom, I would be scrambling to think up ways to offset this loss of revenue. And boy – they have. It’s all about additional services. Each and every carrier has them, some are free, and some aren’t. One thing is sure – offering phones that are open and easy to root is not good for the bottom line, and likely results in a loss of revenue, as customers can remove carrier bloatware, and alter the experience themselves.

Despite the lofty promises of HTC, Motorola and others, it still remains to be seen if the carriers will get on board too.

Any thoughts? Is there a way that openness can be embraced by the manufacturers and carriers, or is this but a distant dream?

Source: GottaBeMobile, SeekingAlpha

  • matt

    Nice article. I think that the Photon will eventually get an unlocked boot-loader however. I agree with you that carriers (as any business) are always looking for way to either increase revenue, or stop revenue erosion, however I’m not convinced that the small percentage (I’m guessing less than 1%) of consumers who root and make use of unlocked boot-loaders are really a huge cost liability at this point. Also, at this point, rooters root; unlocked boot-loader or not.

    • Darcy Alexander

      Thanks for the compliment Matt,

      I’m inclined to agree with you – a very small percentage of users actually root their devices. It’s hard to pin down an actual figure. However, it’s important to remember that rooters, would-be and otherwise, are usually the biggest and most prominent evangelists of the platform, and often have considerable influence over the purchasing patterns of others.

      It’ll be interesting, at the very least, to see how all of this plays out. Thanks for visiting Android Authority!

  • Jason

    I think we just tell manufacturers we want unlocked bootloader phones by buying them more than the others. My contract is up next week, and so far I plan on buying the Xperia Arc or the Nexus S when they come to the US, as they are supposed to be very root-friendly.