Various reports are indicating that both the Motorola DROID X and DROID 2 smartphones will ship with a locked and encrypted (aka digitally signed) bootloader. This will mean that owners will not have the ability to flash custom ROMS that are not officially approved and signed by Motorola. This will also put a strain on developers who sell ROOT-only apps on the Android Market.
So much for the "open" platform.
Although the original DROID isn't locked, the move follows similar actions taken with the internationally-launched Motorola Milestone. Apparently Motorola didn't like the idea of consumers flashing the DROID with custom ROMs, and thus locked out owners and developers with the next smartphone release. The Android modding community was outraged, however Motorola felt justified in its move.
"Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years," explained Lori Fraleigh in this Motorola blog back in February. "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."
Naturally hackers will find a way to modify the DROID X and DROID 2--it may take longer than seen with the DROID, but it will eventually happen. Still, the modding community has options, as Motorola apparently suggested the Nexus One, the T-Mobile G1 or the HTC Dream as platforms for developing unofficial ROMS.
The Motorola DROID X will be available online and in Verizon Wireless Communications Stores Thursday for $199.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate with a new two-year customer agreement.