Apple vs. Motorola: Who Can Lock It Down

Aj Liptak August 17 Apple

Apple has been fighting hard against the jailbreak community for years now. Every update Apple dishes out feels like its a direct punch to the kidney to those wishing to install third-party applications to their device. Another heavyweight, Motorola,  is taking large steps to lock down their new devices as well.

 

Efuse Chip

The new Motorola Droid X which touts impressive specs such as a 1ghz processor, 4.3” high resolutions screen, an 8 MP camera, and an impressive HDMI output up to 720p. It is currently running the latest version of Android (2.1), with the understanding that when Froyo (2.2) hits the market there will be an over air update for the phone.

With the launch of this new phone, Motorola is also making a large addition to the hardware in the form of an Efuse chip. My first thought when I heard about it was what is an Efuse chip and how does this benefit me? It is there to secure the bootloader, which starts every time your phone turns on. If it doesn’t recognize the firmware your device is running, it puts the phone into “recovery mode” and can only boot up once approved software has been loaded to the device.

 

Custom Firmware Foiled

This may sound like a great thing at first, but when you look at the underlying effects on those looking to root and install custom firmware to their phone it isn’t so great. When asked about it,  Verizon responded with the following to Engadget: “Motorola’s primary focus is the security of our end users and protection of their data, while also meeting carrier, partner, and legal requirements.” As it stands, Verizon is playing it off that its not there to prevent a device from functioning as the user may like, but to ensure that only updated and tested software is put on the device so that it may perform to its highest capabilities.

Although it sounds like this will seriously hinder those wishing to mod the new device, it does relieve previous speculation that altering the devices firmware would brick the phone. Due to the persistence of the modding community I have little doubt that this will stop them in the long run. If you would like to know more about modding droid phones please check out Droid Life.

In your opinion is Verizon following Apple down the narrow dark road that is locking down user devices, or is it genuinely trying to protect is customers?

Written by Aj Liptak

Aj Liptak is a full time student at Bradley University majoring in computer information systems and pre-law. You can follow him on twitter at @ajjj08.
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Comments
  • Henry Walker

    I really think it is going to be difficult to make these phones un-jailbreakable. By the way, the Droid X should be getting Froyo in September.

  • http://www.phawk.co.uk Pete Hawkins

    When we look at the new laws passed to allow a user to do whatever they want with their technology, I think they could get into trouble on this one.

    If your computer had a chip in it to make sure you could only run microsoft windows 7, you wouldn’t buy it.

    • alex

      It’s called a product, the whole thing is a SINGLE product. And the Windows mobile devices don’t run other OS’s either. If you want an open toy to fry go buy a chinese knock-off. Fact is mobile devices have run only proprietary OS for decades, Palm, Windows Mobile, Newton, etc. And it really shouldn’t be in the preview of the government to dictate to a company what THEIR product should be. If you don’t like it BUY SOMETHING ELSE. Seriously! If consumers don’t care enough to not buy it to begin with, then they surely have NO right to dictate what it should have been. Laws aren’t necessary, and it’s a waste of tax dollars to make them. If you don’t like a product, or don’t learn enough about it BEFORE you buy then you are the ONLY one to blame. Go make your own open POS Smartphone that will run whatever you put on it regardless of stability, hardware support, or security. Not everyone wants a stupid useless toy they always have to fix. A LARGE Part of the iPhones success is the combination of BOTH large selection of apps in ONE place, AND security and stability from the app approval process. Nerds are the only ones who give a crap about hacking mobile devices and running anything they want. Newsflash not all mobile device users are nerds.

      • ken

        it’s less of a matter of the government dictating what a specific product should be and more about the owner’s rights. What other product requires consumers to use a product according to the manufacturer’s wishes or risk having the manufacturer prevent the product from working. It’ s unheard of! Even with music, the issue is re-distribution, not personal use that hasn’t been sanctioned by corporations.

        Furthermore, ti is simply ridiculous to claim that those who don’t find a particular product perfect should either forgo using it or invent their own. If I don’t like the way a stylist puts together an outfit in a magazine ad, does that mean I shouldn’t buy a shirt made by that company or that I should start making my own clothes? Please! It’s about customization. Selecting the best elements that work for me and tailoring them to fit my needs. It’s not that complicated.

      • alex

        Actually LOTS of manufactures do that. If you don’t use Lysol wipes according to their written instructions it’s a felony. I would rather have the manufacture exercise some discretion because we all know malicious users don’t. I don’t give a rats a$$ about what a malicious user can do to figure out how to get my personal info off my “open” device.

  • alex

    Idk, I think that allot of those features are like a the Casio calculator watch. It’s kind of neet and a novelty but who’s really going to use them. Also, anything over 3.3Mp is better than film resolution as far as digital cameras are concerned, and any one concerned with serious resolution hikes also care about their optics and probably don’t use a phone for their photography. For that matter while HDMI is a digital connection, one can still connect an iPhone, (and any Video iPod) to TV’s and things too.

  • http://www.difat.ru roady

    why would they want to lock down an android… i wouldn’t ever buy an android phone that i can;t customize with third party stuff…

    closed droid is the most rediculous idea i have ever heared about.

    • http://hetchford.posterous.com damian

      Did you ever think that maybe android isn’t as ‘open’ to consumers as you thought? It’s infinitely customizable FOR THE CARRIER. It’s free and open FOR THE CARRIER. If you wouldn’t EVER buy one, i hope you’re happy with the one you have now; i get the feeling that in the future, most, if not all Android phones will be customized for the carriers only.
      Google ain’t nobody’s friend. They’re a business, beholden to their stockholders, same as any other publicly traded company. Watch them not give a lick when the carriers and handset makers lock it down. Watch your cries and exclamation points fall on deaf ears.

  • Ram

    “..is Verizon following Apple down the narrow dark road that is locking down user devices…”? What?!?

    If you ever used Verizon’s neutered feature and smart phones, you’d not ask that silly question. Remember how Verizon disabled Bluetooth on their phones? And preloaded their phones with crapware, and prevented all but pre-approved apps to be purchased and loaded from Verizon Wireless’s app store?

    You had it flipped. Verizon is the pioneer. Verizon surveyed, blasted, graded and paved that narrow dark road long ago.