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Thread: Why the Droid X was Really Locked: Preventing Unauthorized Tethering

  1. Senior Droid
    WhiskeySix's Avatar
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    #1

    Why the Droid X was Really Locked: Preventing Unauthorized Tethering

    This is my theory. Please dissect.


    Adding encryption to a device also adds cost and risk to the development of that device. The only way a company would do that is if they were compelled to; if there is money to be gained by adding the feature, or if there is some other external impetus.

    Considering the former, I can't fathom a way that Motorola would directly make more money by locking down a phone. They aren't going to differentiate the product or sell more units by locking it down; and I can't think of any proprietary SW on the DX that they don't want people getting there hands on - unless they consider motoblur a crown-jewel? (If you know of a way locking would help Moto sell more phones, please enlighten me )

    So, if we assume Motorola didn't have significant internal incentive to add cost/risk to the DX project, the next stop on the follow-the-money-trail is the carrier: Verizon.

    Does Verizon have anything to gain by disallowing root-access? Is there anything that root-access can provide that would reduce Verizon's profits?

    Verizon charges $15-$30 per MONTH for the right to tether. If root-access allows people to do the same for free without detection? That sounds like a pretty solid financial incentive to me.


    TLDR:
    Verizon: We want to charge for tethering.
    Motorola: That will cost you a little extra.
    Verizon: How much?
    Motorola: Not much, relatively speaking.
    Verizon: <evil laugh>
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  3. Droid Ninja
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    #2
    Their are probably many factors.

    For example, when people start screwing with their phone, especially when they dont really know what they are doing....they start bricking/breaking their phone.

    When that happens, they start returning them to Verizon for warranty replacements....alot which get replaced and even if they dont....it is alot of time and money spent in shipping and diagnoses that Verizon has to eat. That adds up to huge money also.

    So, their are plenty of reasons for doing so. I highly doubt tethering is a biggie, they have ways of telling if your tethering just by looking at your data usage.
  4. Droid
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    #3
    Root access is independent from an encrypted bootloader. You can have root with an encrypted bootloader.

    Correct me if I am wrong.
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    ewells2420's Avatar
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    #4
    Actually im 99% sure its so someone cant steal their motoblur crap. The thing that seems to be slowing down the phone and is crap in the first place lol.
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    #5
    I'm not disagreeing that Verizon has a desire to not see phones rooted/hacked. But there has to be more forces involved that just Verizon. If it was Verizon demanding this, then all phones released on Verizon's network would have an encrypted bootloader and not just one that is locked down. This isn't the case since HTC and other brands are not encrypted. Only Motorola phones have been encrypted.

    Also, Motorola has been encrypting phones on other networks besides Verizon's. Therefore I think the responsibility for having an encrypted bootloader lies squarely on the shoulders of Motorola and Motorola alone.
  7. Droid
    ewells2420's Avatar
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    #6
    Quote Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post
    I'm not disagreeing that Verizon has a desire to not see phones rooted/hacked. But there has to be more forces involved that just Verizon. If it was Verizon demanding this, then all phones released on Verizon's network would have an encrypted bootloader and not just one that is locked down. This isn't the case since HTC and other brands are not encrypted. Only Motorola phones have been encrypted.

    Also, Motorola has been encrypting phones on other networks besides Verizon's. Therefore I think the responsibility for having an encrypted bootloader lies squarely on the shoulders of Motorola and Motorola alone.

    All that means is that motorola is willing to listen to verizon to encrypt the bootloader. But like I said its so someone cant steal motorolas intellictual property.
  8. Senior Droid
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    #7
    Of course tethering (and wi-fi hotspot) are the reasons. They're the only legit ones to lock phones down as much as possible.
  9. Droid Ninja
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    #8
    Sounds reasonable to me. I have really only seen two plausible explainations that really make any sense to me. Tethering, and the ability to withhold os upgrades to "force" users to the next generation of phone. The arguements that the number of "bricked" phones going back or volume of customer service issues that are related to rooted phones seems a little thin to me. As these phones are pretty high tech, and as not all users are up to the task, I suspect that rooted or not, there are a lot of phones getting replaced or simply customer serviced all the time, I have a hard time believing that a few phones here and there that are rooted "broken" really adds (or subtracts) to the bottom line.

    Lots of folks here like to caution folks about tethering massive amounts of data as it will strain the network, and force VZW to do something. I do not think I have seen a single post from anyone saying that they cannot get onto the network, or that the network is running very slow in a market, with others confirming a possible local overload. Sure there are lots of folks with single issue situations that may be baseband or rom or perhaps a local tower tweak, but nothing like you see with AT&T.

    So, back to your theisis, if rooting/roming does not cause bottom line issues related to hardware/customer service or system overload (my opinions) than what is left. As you point out, money or more appropriately called opportunity cost. I was new to the smart phones with the original Droid, but I think before its release, tethering and navigation were pay as you go options. Then the Droid shows up with everything wide open. Folks get to use everything "free" for a year, perhaps a longterm business plan to get folks hooked or perhaps a way to see what a possible revenue stream could look like with maximum use? Sure VZW could use some fancy market cost analysis gyrations to predict how many users would tether, but what better way than to give it away for a long period.

    Then the next generation of phones come out locked down, requiring pay to tether. Kinda hard to dismiss your points. And I guess we would know for sure if they suddenly decide in the future to switch back to pay to navigate.

    Craig
  10. Junior Droid
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    #9
    Actually, the Droid X can be tethered without the plan using the software PDANet. I tried it with my Droid X and it works perfectly.

    If you're looking to try it. Before you set your phone to debugging mode, connect the droid to the computer and make sure its on PC mode (default). Install the driver, if auto-run is disabled, go into My Computer, it should be listed there (Windows 7). After that, go install the PDANet software, set your droid to debugging mode (instruction on their site), and have it connected to the USB.

    I disconnected my ethernet wire, disabled my wifi through device manager, and I was online. The PDANet has a taskbar icon too, you can even set it to automatically connect when the phone is connected to the USB.

    The only question is how much data and how long can I do this before I get a massive bill.

    On the other hand, firmware 2.2 (late August for Droid x) is said to have tethering built-in, rather than having to use another software (i.e. by Verizon), but Verizon will probably cripple this feature. Not very "open".
    Last edited by Parasol; 07-16-2010 at 10:36 AM.
  11. Junior Droid
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    #10
    [quote=ewells2420;638946]
    Quote Originally Posted by sic0048 View Post

    All that means is that motorola is willing to listen to verizon to encrypt the bootloader. But like I said its so someone cant steal motorolas intellictual property.
    I'm not disagreeing with you, I'm just a law student but it sounds like something I'd tell a company to do. But who the hell would want to steal MOTOBLUR? 'Okay guys take a look at this software and do everything exactly the opposite.'
    Its been said before but really these custom interfaces only exist for 2 reasons: 1) because marketing departments are terrified that they wont be able differentiate their phone from other devices except by including expensive high-end components (or sell to the one button mouse fans who buy the simplistic Apple speak n spell-like devices); and 2) so that the same incompetent software development departments that designed the appalling interfaces on their earlier phones can justify their continued existence.

    But yeah, it's at least partly to protect intellectual property.

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