In a time when the community is like a rampant swarm of flies around a steaming pile of horse manure and modifications and rooting are a part of everybody’s life, carriers are trying harder and harder to make sure their devices cannot be broken. This is very understandable when you look at the history of the Android phones.
Back in the day of the now infamous G1, modified boot loaders, recovery images and complete system images were released frequently to modify and increase the functionality of your phone. When some of these modifications became too large to fit in the partitions of the G1′s internal memory, a developer by the name of Haykuro released an updated SPL (Secondary Program Loader) that reorganized the internal partitions of the device and made it possible to fit more enhanced modifications on the device.
To the community, this was an awesome advancement, but to T-Mobile, it was an incredible inconvenience. The downside of the release was the issue of people bricking their devices so they became unusable. T-Mobile became inundated with support calls and requests for replacement devices and rooted phones became a sore point.
On the lighter side, a well designed phone that is rootable only increases the value of the device and provides more sales for the carrier as more and more people want to own that phone. Why? Because the life span of the phone just increased as the community will always find ways to make it better and faster. Look at the T-mobile G1! Still going strong.
So, how do we overcome the issues for the carriers? How do we appease the carriers so their support costs do not sky rocket with replacement phones costs due to user error and bricked devices? How do we make it possible for the carriers to give us rooting powers?
I’ve talked to many people in the community about this subject and one option that actually sounds somewhat feasible (to the community at least, I can’t speak for T-Mobile or any other carrier) is for the users who want to modify their devices to sign some form of waiver stating that they will no longer call the carrier or the device manufacturers for support. Maybe the IMEI number used to uniquely identify each device could be logged in their systems and the first thing they do before providing support is ask you for your IMEI number. The other issue is the means for the carriers to make a particular device open and rootable and only that single device.
One down side to this is that the carriers would incur a little extra cost to maintain this list (albeit pretty small) and a slight change to their support process.
So how do we make it possible and even beneficial for the carriers to offer this service? Maybe there could be a one time fee to have your device unlocked at the time you sign your waiver declining support. The fee could cover any administrative costs and any software fix they would need to apply to your device.
It’s proving difficult for the community to root the G2 with its read-only system partitions being restored on each boot of the device. I hope that something happens so the future of the device-modding community can continue. If all the carriers keep pushing and pushing to make their devices more secure and un-breakable (if possible), it will water down the future of Android and its whole Open Source approach.
Do you have any suggestions to make this an easier process? Leave us your thoughts below!