HTC bootloader u-turn means phones can still run alternative software

HTC will no longer lock the bootloader on its smart phones, after listening to overwhelming customer feedback.

Andy Merrett
Andy Merrett has been using mobile phones since the days when they only made voice calls. Since then he has worked his way through a huge number of Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson models. Andy is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.
Andy Merrett
2 min read

Android handset hackers are rejoicing today as HTC has backed down on its plans to lock the bootloader on its smart phones. It means you'll continue to be able to load whichever version of Android you choose on your phone.

Posting a message on Facebook, HTC CEO Peter Chou said,  "overwhelming customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones" led the Taiwanese firm to slam on the handbrake and pull a sharp U-turn.

It's not clear from the post exactly when this new commitment will come into effect, and whether it will initially work only with new models. Handsets already on shelves and in shipment will still have locked bootloaders in place until such a time as a software update unlocks them.

Nearly 2,000 people have commented on the Facebook announcement and there's a general sense of euphoria at the news. Some users are pledging undying allegiance to HTC now it's seen the light.

There are few wry comments, such as, "Good for you HTC -- open bootloaders can only be beneficial to you in the long run (who doesn't love customers ruining their warranty?)" and "Wow a company that listens? That's impressive! The hard thing for you now HTC is staying like that!" No doubt there are a few anti-Apple comments in there, too, but after surfing the first several hundred comments we started losing the will to live.

Phone rooting has been sanctioned since the early days of Android, but it's worth noting that it's not for everyone. If you're generally happy with how Android performs you should weigh up whether you need to access the innards of your phone at the risk of voiding your warranty. Added to this, some companies just aren't keen on users breaking open their handsets. You won't be able to watch Android Market movies or Blockbuster films for a start -- mind you, Brits can't do that yet anyway.

While the majority of people are happy to use their phones just the way they come out of the box, the demand for more control is plain to see. Hopefully HTC's move will appease some who worry that Android may become a closed platform like Apple's iOS.

Are you happy with HTC's decision? Will you be delving into the depths of your HTC handset? Let us know in the comments section.