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HTC Knows What Android Stands for Better Than Google, Motorola

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GIVE 'EM THE BOOT
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Last month, Motorola posed a question on Facebook: "What cool Android apps would you like to see next from developers?" Likely expecting to hear scores of users say "Netflix!" or "Better music apps!" Motorola was setting itself up for a rude awakening.

By an overwhelming majority, Motorola users voted for the company to put an end to a locked bootloader -- the main hurdle in installing a new ROM or a custom kernel or just getting rid of all that awful bloatware. The manufacturer has stood firm in preventing users from truly owning their devices, even going so far as saying, "[If] you want to do custom roms, then buy elsewhere, we'll continue with our strategy that is working thanks," in a YouTube comment section for an Atrix 4G video.

Unlike the notoriously locked-down iPhone, Android bills itself as an "open" platform with a focus on a customizable UI and unapproved third party apps. But Motorola's locked bootloader prevents actual ownership despite actually owning the device. To put that in perspective, it's actually easier to jailbreak an iPhone.

Even Google itself stands in the way of a truly open OS. Rooted devices are unable to rent movies from the Android Market rental service. Instead of a streamed movie, users on rooted devices receive a "failure to fetch license" error message. The Android Market help section is of -- surprise! -- no help. It states that "rooted devices are currently unsupported due to requirements related to copyright protection." Gartner analyst Phillip Redman told Wired that he suspects it has to do with a rooted user's ability to circumvent the DRM system in the rental service.

Great. Two years since RIAA spokesperson Jonathan Lamy declared DRM dead, and we still have to deal with it. But it's not like we'd ever take someone from the RIAA at their word, right?

But despite Google and Motorola's stubborn refusal to have a completely open OS, HTC is doing what it can to fulfill customer demands. Perfectly juxtaposing Motorola's survey, HTC announced on Facebook that it will no longer lock Android bootloaders. The message reads:

"There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we've listened. Today, I'm confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience," Peter Chou, CEO of HTC.

Although the announcement doesn't specify if HTC will retroactively unlock its previous devices, like the Thunderbolt, Incredible S, and EVO 3D. But it's certainly a start.

So if you decided to give Android a whirl because of its "openness," send a message to all manufacturers -- as well as Google -- by giving serious consideration to HTC products.

(See also: Motorola's Android Survey Backfires Hilariously and Which Android Phones Are Easiest to Hack?)

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