Ok this might be quite a long rant about something that you probably do not care about, so to be on the safe side you should probably stop reading right about now.
So I’ve used my Motorola Milestone for a month or so now, and I really like it. It’s well built, fast and it runs Android which means I can tinker with it all I like right? Well no. Since Motorola apparently likes to do business with their collective head up their ass, for some reason they decided to lock down the bootloader on the Milestone which means there is no way to run a custom Android version on this phone since the ROM has to be signed by Motorola. Now, the annoying thing is that they did not do this on the Droid which essentially is the US version of the Milestone. Had they locked down that version as well they would still have been asshats, but at least consistent asshats.
European users are getting quite pissed about this which IMHO is understandable. The Milestone is marketed as “The phone without compromise” and is running Android which generally is quite hacker friendly. Not to mention that it’s quite an expensive phone.
At first Motorola tried to ignore this issue, but after their facebook account at http://www.facebook.com/motorolaeurope?ref=nf started to get spammed with angry posts (And it still is) they gave some lame attempt at an answer saying that the Milestone is a consumer device, not a developer device and that opening it up could cause problems with copyrighted material. This answer makes no fucking sense what so ever since as I mentioned the Droid, THE SAME PHONE, is open and free for people to mess around with as much as they want. Well actually, this answer makes sense if Motorola believes that non-US users are retarded mouth breathers that does not recognize bullshit when they see it.
Ok, so attempt nr 2 didn’t quite work. The third response from Motorola was to silently delete all posts on their dev forums about this issue and pretend that all was well in the world. You’d think they would realize by now that their customers wanted real answers, but since Motorola apparently is run by monkeys they kept on pushing out bad ideas. This made the spamming of their facebook page even worse and so finally they decided to write a proper reply at http://community.developer.motorola.com/t5/MOTODEV-Blog/Custom-ROMs-and-Motorola-s-Android-Handsets/ba-p/4224. Parts of this that post goes:
For the Android application developer, MOTODEV provides a wealth of resources to help you create and bring your applications to market. We provide a comprehensive Eclipse-based development environment, MOTODEV Studio, as well as SDK add-ons which provide emulator images that represent the software on our handsets. To aid developers who may not have access to physical handsets, or who may wish to test on a carrier network unavailable in their physical location, we provide access to handsets via the Motorola Virtual Device Lab at DeviceAnywhere. All Motorola application developer resources can be found at http://developer.motorola.com.
What the…w…who the fuck cares?! Are people screaming for information about what MOTODEV Studio is? NO! Get to the point asshats! And honestly, putting MOTO infront of everything is not “The cool thing” to do. Really. MOTOStop it.
We understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with Android system development and re-flashing phones. For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes. At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers, and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.
Oh boy. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I wanted to Google ADP1 or a Nexus One, I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT A GOOGLE ADP1 OR A NEXUS ONE. See this pisses me off, because they HAVE gone into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones, just not outside the US!
…Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years. This practice is driven by a number of different business factors. When we do deviate from our normal practice, such as we did with the DROID, there is a specific business reason for doing so. We understand this can result in some confusion, and apologize for any frustration.
Right. And locking up a 3 year old RAZR is perfectly understandable. It’s a simple dumbphone with a custom OS written by Motorola. It was never meant to be fiddled with, it has never claimed to be free and open. Android phones are meant to be free and open. It was probably the biggest reason I got an Android phone, to be able to mess around with it. Suddenly I’m told that I can’t.
No one is asking Motorola to actively support custom ROMs on their phones. What people are asking is that Motorola allow those that are willing to void their warranty to be able to use whatever they want on their phones.
What is this specific business reason for opening up the Droid you ask? Well fuck if I know, because of course it’s never mentioned.
The last line is a nice one too. “We understand this can result in some confusion, and apologize for any frustration”. I’m not confused, I’m pissed! We were told that the Milestone would be the non-US version of the Droid. The Droid was not locked down so we had no reason to believe the Milestone would be. The Milestone was advertised as being “without compromise”. I’d say limiting what a user can do with a product is quite a compromise, but then again I don’t live in Motorolas bizarro world.
We do hear your feedback and read your posts – whether on our MOTODEV discussion boards, our Owners’ Forums, our Facebook pages, Twitter, or a variety of other sites on the web. We take the time to understand the issue and then pass the information on to the appropriate product (or other) teams within Motorola. We then try to respond with explanations or updates as we get the answers. Thank you for your continued feedback.
Funny story. As I posted a reply on their forum asking for clarification (And yes, I was very polite) I realized a few minutes later is had been deleted. So much for accepting feedback bitches! Motorola does not care. Not one bit. It’s becoming clear to me now why Motorola is not doing to well. Treating their customers like crap is not a very good business model, at least that’s what I learned in my economics class at uni.
The latest word on the Motorola facebook page is that user accounts of critical customers are being removed. Now, I’m not going to say that this is true becuase statistically most facebook users are dirty lying bastards, but honestly I wouldn’t be that surprised.
I feel ripped off. Really. If HTC can produce phones that allow people to hack them why can’t Motorola? It makes no sense at all. And this whole intellectual property problem is a non-issue. When custom ROMs for HTC phones came out they asked the author to remove Google copyrighted software from the ROMs. He did, and that was that. Problem gone. There is no reason to believe the same thing could not happen with custom ROMs for the Milestone.
Why not allow people to register their IMEIs as developer phones with Motorola and by doing so voiding their warranty? If they mess up and brick their phones, they’re on their own.
It’s really a win-win situation. Motorola gets a better reputation and sells more phones, users will have the possibility to hack away at an awesome product. If only Motorola would see it that way.