Motorola has had its fair share of criticism from the Android hacker community, especially with its less-than-friendly policies regarding any act of ROM or firmware modification. However, the latest news from the company seems to hint at a complete about-turn of Motorla's Android strategy: apparently, the upcoming Xoom tablet will sport a certain feature that should make it highly sought after by the aforementioned enthusiasts. How does the ability to install custom ROMs legitimately into your Xoom sounds like?
*Note: the image shown above is NOT that of the real Motorola Xoom's bootloader screen!
Installing custom ROMs on a smartphone is always considered to be an act that resides well within the grey area between making legal or illegal modifications to one's device. However, the case for smartphones based off Google's Android operating system is a lot more complex, as its open nature means that technically anybody who is savvy enough can potentially cook up their own custom ROM and release it for public use while being covered by the various open-source licenses governing the use of Android.
Unfortunately, as far as most OEMs are concerned, the very act of rooting an Android-powered smartphone to gain access to its bootloader is an instant passport to voiding one's warranty. But once again, it would seem that certain flagship products are exempt from the need to lock down the device's bootloader. In an announcement made on a Twitter, Motorola's mobile department has confirmed that the Xoom will sport an unlockable bootloader, just like the Nexus S before it. And lest you think we are making this up, here is the actual Twit in all its glory:
So what will this mean for both end-users and developers? Well, simply put, it appears to be a win-win situation for all parties involved. End-users who desire a more customized version of Android are free to load up the Xoom with customized Android ROMs for their own use without having to worry about tripping any electronic security mechanism (if any) found in the tablet. On the other hand, developers are free to perform all kinds of hacks on both the Xoom and its firmware to further tweak the device and fix certain bugs, if need be.
*This is NOT the real bootloader screen for the Motorola Xoom!
Still, whether Motorola will continue to offer the freedom of an unlocked bootloader in future tablet and smartphone offerings remains to be seen. However, it would also seem that the ability to install custom ROMs without having to worry about treading into what is essentially a legal minefield out there definitely more than makes up for the lack of Flash support in the initial batch of Xoom tablets to hit retail shelves, don't you think?