Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ahh… the Sweet Smell of "Open"

I bet owners of Droid X phones are thrilled to have such an "open" phone. Man, I was just so off-base when I discussed Android and the practical reality of openness in a world controlled by wireless providers. Oh, wait… no I wasn't.

via several people on Twitter


Heath said...

If openness is so bleak on handsets, how do you explain the vibrant homebrew community for webos? I can (and have) put a custom Linux kernel on my phone, no jailbreaking required.

Henrik said...

I doubt that you'll need a HW-fix as they mention in the article. What you probably need is a piece of SW that's signed with a root key that allows you to execute from RAM (booting from the ROM to your SW, without touching the bootloader in flash), and that piece of SW will then write you a new bootloader and sign it with a 'device local key' that the ROM code will use when verifying the bootloader later on. When you boot your phone, the ROM will verify the bootloader with the ‘device local key’, and if that doesn’t check out it will refuse to boot, hence you’re left with a “bricked phone” unless you have a SW signed with the root key (so you can write a valid boot image). I’m not saying I know exactly how they’ve implemented their security, but that you would require a HW-fix is really doubtful since that would cost a fortune for them if they got corrupted flash-memory for some reason and needed to replace the bootloader in a lot of phones on the market.

As a sidenote, some operators want to lock the phone to be exclusive to their network, and if you can replace the bootloader you’ll also able to circumvent the operator locks. A lot of people buy their phones subsidized by the operator, where the operator expect to get that money back from revenues when you use their network, so having this kind of protection is quite important.

Btw, there are many flavours of open :)

Jack Axe said...

The openness of the Android platform manifests itself in this case as the ability to purchase an Android phone from another manufacturer who doesn't lock down the device in some insane manner while maintaining your investment in all the apps you've bought and the data you've entered. Also the reasons for "jailbreaking" an Android phone aren't the same as jailbreaking for iPhone. The ecosystem isn't completely controlled, you can add whatever you like in most cases. I love your blog and I'm not an Android fanboy, but your comment was a bit too snarky to let slide...esp considering the world of shit that iPhone is going through right now.

joecab said...

Nah. Even with this "crisis" (which I still say is real, but exaggerated; no one I know with an iPhone 4 can replicate it) they still have the highest satisfaction ratings out there. This is the price of being on the cutting edge, and any first adopters will always be taking this risk if they don't wait to see how the initial reports run. "Pioneers get the arrows," as they say.

Someone else mentioned Intel's floating-point Pentium error "fiasco" of some years back. And who the heck even remembers that anymore? I have no idea what Apple will announce tomorrow to resolve this, but it's just going to be a mere ripple in time. So Apple deserves to get dinged for it but Android users who think they have "choice" when they have to deal with not only being stuck with one carrier and one handset like we are for two years, as well as stuff like this, deserve a wake up call as well.

Billy Gray said...

I have to wonder: what's the ROI for Motorola for eFuse? I mean, how do hey expect this to help them sell as many phones as possible and laugh all the way to the bank?

Perhaps it's supposed to be that final level of security for when a network round-trip to verify some receipt for paid content is unavailable or some such.

Still doesn't make any dang sense.

SEO Services Consultants said...

Nice information, many thanks to the author. It is incomprehensible to me now, but in general, the usefulness and significance is overwhelming. Thanks again and good luck! Web Design Company