Future of Android?

If you haven’t already read of all the rumors about Android becoming “locked-down”, I brought the information here to be shared. A lot of the information is aimed at root users but could effect stock users also.

To start off here’s a post quoted from garemlin on DroidXForums who quoted p3droid on My Droid World regarding what he thinks will be the death of Android:

“Some Food for Thought – Bootloaders, Rooting, Manufacturers, and Carriers

Bootloaders, Rooting, Manufacturers, and Carriers


I don’t believe that I need to introduce myself, but if I do my name is P3Droid. I am a phone enthusiast and have been working in the platform for 17 months. I have been very lucky in my short time on the Android platform. I think more than anything I have been lucky enough to be in the right places at the right times. The day I first saw and played with the Droid (OG) I thought “that is the ugliest damn phone I’ve ever played with”. Then I was asked back into the store by my friend (nameless) to get some time with the Android platform and he began to explain to me how open the phone was and how a “smart” person could do anything they wanted to the phone. That turned what I thought was an ugly phone into the sexiest beast ever. I guess that was approximately October of 2009, and I was excited about the possibilities and dove right in without checking the depth of the water.

I spent much of the year on an open phone and an open platform, and sometime in July I picked up a Droid X. I soon found a great bunch of friends and we formed Team Black Hat. Really wanting to break the bootloader, we spent more hours working on it than we did our 9 – 5 jobs. Eventually we came to the conclusion (with help from some unique resources), that we were not going to accomplish our objective. Every so often we still pluck away at it, but we have moved on to other things that will help people enjoy their Droid phones.

Fast forward to October 2010. I’m still in love with the concept of android, and I’ve done more than my share of developing, themeing, creating ROMS and even hacking. *Having been involved in so many things and having developed some unique contacts, I have been privy to information that is not disseminated to the masses. Some of this information I was asked to sit on. Some information I sat on because I felt it was best to do so for our entire community. You have probably seen me rant on occasion about what I thought the community was doing wrong and causing itself future pain. Each of those days I had received even more disheartening information. So where does this leave me? It leaves me with a difficult choice to make. What to tell, how much to tell, and do I want to give information out that could possible be slightly wrong. I’ve worked very hard to verify things through multiple sources, when possible, and some other information comes from sources so reliable that I take them at their word.

This brings me up to today. I’ve tossed and turned regarding how to say this, and how to express all of the information and my feelings in regards to this information. I guess the solution is to just let you all decide for yourselves what you think and what you want to do.

One Shoe Falls

Beginning in July, we (TBH), began hearing things about Motorola working on ways to make rooting the device more difficult. This was going to be done via Google through the kernel. No big deal we thought, the community always finds a way. When Froyowas released and there was no root for some time we became a bit concerned but soon there was a process and even 1-clicks. This was good news and bad news to me, because it simply meant that they would go back to the drawing board and improve upon what they had done.

During this time there were still little rumors here and there about security of devices, and other such things but nothing solid and concrete. Until November.

The Other Shoe Falls

Beginning in October, the information began coming in faster and it had more of a dire ring to it. It was also coming in from multiple sources. I began to rant a little at the state of our community, and that we were the cause of our own woes. So what did I hear?

1. New devices would present challenges for the community that would most likely be insurmountable, and that Motorola specifically – would be impossible to hack the bootloader. Considering we never hacked the previous phones, this was less than encouraging.
2.Locked bootloaders, and phones were not a Motorola-only issue, that the major manufacturers and carriers had agreed this was the best course of action.(see new HTC devices)
3. The driving forces for device lock down was theft of service by rooted users, the return of non-defective devices due to consumer fraud, and the use of non-approved firmware on the networks.

I think I posted my first angry message and tweet about being a responsible community soon after getting this information. I knew the hand writing was on the wall, and we would not be able to stop what was coming, but maybe we could convince them we were not all thieves and cut throats.

Moving along, December marked a low point for me. The information started to firm up, and I was able to verify it through multiple channels. This information made the previous information look like a day in the park. So what was new?

1. Multiple carriers were working collaboratively on a program that would be able to identify rooted users and create a database of their meids.
2. Manufacturers who supply Verizon were baking into the roms new security features:

a. one security feature would identify any phone using a tether program to circumvent paying for tethering services. (check your gingerbread DroidX/Droid2 people and try tether)
b. a second security feature would allow the phone to identify itself to the network if rooted.
c. security item number 2 would be used to track, throttle, even possibly restrict full data usage of these rooted phones.

The question I’ve asked is why? Why do all this; why go through so much trouble. The answer I get is a very logical one and one I understand even if I don’t like it. It is about the money. With LTE arriving and the higher charges for data and tethering, carriers feel they must bottle up the ability of users to root their device and access this data, circumventing the expensive tethering charges.

So there you have it. Some stuff has been left out, and maybe that will be the third shoe to drop. That shoe may be the most important one because it will fall squarely on our back sides.

What I would like to leave you with is that this is not an initiative unique to Verizon or Motorola, this is industry wide and encompassing many manufacturers.

Have a good day and I hope you have enjoyed reading this.”

Here’s the second part to his story:

“The Rubber Meets the Road

So, I wish I had more time to have added this to the original post, but writing something like this takes a lot of time and effort to put all the information into context and provide some form of linear progression.

Lets get on with the story. March of this year was a monumental month for me. The information was unsettling and I felt as if we had a gigantic bulls-eye on our backs.

This is what I have heard:

1. The way that they were able to track rooted users is based on pushing updates to phones, and then tracking which meid’s did not take the update. There is more to it than this but that is the simple version.
2. More than one major carrier besides Verizon has implemented this program and that all carriers involved had begun tracking rooted phones. All carriers involved were more than pleased with the accuracy of the program.

1. What I was not told is what the carriers intended to do with this information.

3. In new builds the tracking would be built into the firmware and that if a person removed the tracking from the firmware then the phone would not be verified on the network (i.e. your phone could not make phone calls or access data).
4. Google is working with carriers and manufacturers to secure phones, and although Google is not working to end hacking, it is working to secure the kernel so that no future applications can maliciously use exploits to steal end-user information. But in order to gain this level of security this may mean limited chances to root the device. (This item I’ve been told but not yet able to verify through multiple sources – so take it for what you want)
5. Verizon has successfully used its new programs to throttle data on test devices in accordance with the guidelines of the program.
6. The push is to lock down the devices as tight as can be, but also offer un-lockable devices (Think Nexus S).

The question I’ve asked is why? Why do all this; why go through so much trouble. The answer I get is a very logical one and one I understand even if I don’t like it. It is about the money. With LTE arriving and the higher charges for data and tethering, carriers feel they must bottle up the ability of users to root their device and access this data, circumventing the expensive tethering charges.

What I would like to leave you with is that this is not an initiative unique to Verizon or Motorola, this is industry wide and encompassing many manufacturers.

So what does all this mean? You will need to make your own conjectures about what to think of all of this. But, I think that the rooting, hacking, and modding community – as we know it – is living on borrowed time.

In the final analysis of all this I guess I’ll leave you with my feelings:

I will take what comes and turn it into a better brighter day, that is all I can do because I do not control the world.”

We can’t really expect to believe this yet, can we? I don’t think anything this extreme could happen; it seems like it would be an invasion of their customer’s privacy. Now read this.

Quoted from Chris Davies on SlashGear:

“Google’s Andy Rubin has stepped up to address concerns over Android fragmentation and rumors that the search giant is clamping down on modifications to the open-source OS. Challenging reports last week that Google had embarked on a new, stricter policy toward manufacturers altering Android, giving priority to those companies who left the OS in its untampered state, Rubin insisted that there was no “one size fits all” solution and that the delay in releasing the Android 3.0 Honeycomb source code “does not represent a change in strategy.”

Instead, Rubin says, Android developers are “still hard at work to bring all the new Honeycomb features to phones” and that “as soon as this work is completed, we’ll publish the code.” As for talk of preventing modifications in the name of anti-fragmentation, Rubin argues that the program has in fact been in place since Android 1.0, and that all of the founding Open Handset Alliance members signed up to the policy back in 2007.

Manufacturers are free to modify Android, he insists, but if they want to use the suite of Google apps then they must adhere to a set of basic compatibility requirements. “Miraculously,” Rubin says, “we are seeing the platform take on new use cases, features and form factors as it’s being introduced in new categories and regions while still remaining consistent and compatible for third party applications.” It’s not clear how that sits with developers recently describing Android fragmentation as a “huge” problem.”

If the last quote didn’t leave you relieved, then read this last quote. Thankfully, there is one member of the android rooting community who wants to take action and prevent Android from becoming locked down.

Quoted from wugfresh on DroidXForums:

“A Plan For A Brighter Android Future

:: Preface ::

If we ever are going to have a chance at securing a future of truly open source and unrestricted android development the first step will be for all of us to stop limiting ourselves within the confines of our own reality and to extend ourselves far beyond the parameters of our most recent and emotionally provoked thoughts. Let’s face it, ever since the P3.bomb got dropped on us, each and every one of us has fixated over this issue in some way shape or form and although we may all have gone about expressing it differently, we all share one thing in common and that is our instinctual feeling to protect our beloved little green friend.

:: Reality Check ::

Right now, I must clearly state; if you are thinking that we are going to win this thing purely through our collective voice as we exist today, or that if we are a significant enough community simply to unite in an effort to pervasively spread our message, then you are thoroughly and utterly mistaken. If those were your thoughts, then you need a reality check, just as I recently realized I needed one myself. As a community our relative significance seems much larger than it actually is when we congregate together on these forums and talk about what’s going on. This over inflated sense of self-worth will only hurt us moving forward. I for one know as a fact, that I am probably guiltier of this trait than any one of you reading this; that I have been carrying myself around these forums with an overly misconstrued perception of the relative size of this community and our potential ability to catalyze change via our voice only. I most clearly and flagrantly displayed this behavior when I was going around to all the forums and actively trying to promote the moto petition. Well, again, like I said, I was in desperate need a reality check. However, at that time, I was far too blinded by my own passion to be the one to catalyze change that I neglected to let reason reemerge to the surface. And then this happened. Oh boy…. (4 days…)

So here I am, back again, claiming to be the one with a plan all over again except this time I actually want to make it work, this time I want to spend an adequate amount of time really thinking things through, and this time I want there to be checks and balances. What do I mean by this? I mean that I want everyone who plans on being involved not to treat this thing as if it is “Wugs” plan but to rather treat this thing as “Our” plan. I want you all to think as individuals, as intellectual, as a representative of the things you value, of things you stand for. You will not just be someone who is “helping the cause” but rather you willbecome someone who is the cause. Meaning, that if any of you ever find yourself feeling that in some way shape or form that the plan might be deviating from achieving its goal, or if you simply do not like the direction it is going in, do not keep it to yourself, voice your opinion, explain your reasoning, call me out if you think I am wrong. Therefore, in other words, in order for this plan to effectively succeed, we as people must operate like the very open source platform we are trying to protect.

So what’s the plan? …. You mean what’s the problem?

:: The Problem ::

Right now, when analyzing this situation from the perspective of the service providers and manufacturing companies, the state in which the rooted/developer community exists today is not looking good for us at all. If you were to ask a service provider to describe what they think of us today, they would respond with the follow remarks:

  • We use wireless tethering service but don’t pay for the plan – this over saturates the network and congests the data transfer rate for their non-rooted users who actually pay for the service. Additionally, not only do we use tethering service and not pay for it, but we use it even more than the ones who do pay for it. Some rooted users tether in excess of 30GB+ every month, and Verizon’s base plan for 2GB is 20$ a month.
  • We regularly make warranty claims under false pretenses – this costs the company additional money and they do not see the same trend amongst their non-rooted users
  • After accidentally bricking or damaging the devices when performing system level modifications
  • Simply for the purpose of trying to get a CPU that overclocks more
  • After causing the phone to brick and not even bothering to try spending the time to go on a tech forum or learning how to SBF it yourself
  • We typically keep our devices longer than the EOL – this slows down the frequency in which we agree to signing new 2-year service contracts and also reduces the frequency that we purchase new devices from manufacturers

:: In Case You Didn’t Get The Message ::

($$) Stock > Root ($)

Root users are just bad for business

The service providers would much prefer a stock user over a root user because:

(a) they pay more money and

(b) they have relatively less problems.

:: Solution ::

If the problem is that root users are bad for business, then my plan is to prove the polar opposite.

To effectively achieve this goal I propose that we construct a full blown Integrated Marketing Campaign (IMC) for a developer option that a service provider could offer. I have already begun work on this document and have come up with the general framework for moving forward. This plan includes an entirely new set of policies specifically designed to meet the needs of this particular user type, while at the same time ensuring that from the perspective of the service provider their relative monetary significance is equivalent to that of stock users if not greater. Furthermore this plan will delineate all of the components necessary to formulate a solidified marketing strategy, from identifying the demographic of the target customer base, clear focus on centerfold competitive advantages, SWOT analysis, marketability of the open device niche, advertising strategies (TV, print media, viral, guerrilla, text based, and others), brand recognition and specific characterization of the open-niche, and all the rest. In addition to these core marketing components, to solidify the profitability of this IMC even further, I will also aim to include some key financial components like break-even analysis, and market forecasting. The underlying concept of this plan that makes it unique from all the rest is that ROOT becomes the selling point; yeah “Droid-Does” was nice and all… but why not show what itactually does? The only reason root users are such a small group is because the manner in which android devices have been marketed are as if they were no different than iPhones.

  • Why not market android biggest competitive advantage?
  • Why isolate us in the background, to force this amazing developing community to lurk in the shadows?
  • Why force us to have to hack into our own devices just to begin… we are going to do it anyway?
  • Why leave us to form our own little niche amongst ourselves within your system?
  • Why not form that niche for us, out in the open and in the public eye, and for your own profitable advantage?
  • Why pretend like there aren’t two different types of customers in the technology sector?

:: It’s Time For A Change! ::

It’s time for a company to wake up and realize that they are missing the whole point of android in the first place, the reason why it’s so cool and has caused so many technology enthusiast to get involved. It’s time for a company to realize the immense profitability amongst marketing the brightest members within their user base. If true open source android projects got the real exposure they deserved, do you have any doubt in your mind that the number of root users would not increase exponentially in size…and keep increasing… and increasing? Riddle me this? How many stock users have you met that after being introduced to root did not become completely infatuated with their android device? And also ask yourself this…. Were you an android expert when you started? How quickly did you learn? What helped you learn faster? What were you most afraid of before you rooted? And what put you at ease? Keep these questions in mind, as they will become primary components of developing components of an effective marketing strategy. There will need to exist a way to quickly bring average users up to speed, to get a solid base of knowledge of the key components involved before they begin, and to be prepared to restore their device easily whenever they brick. I believe that with a little ingenuity, some recent projects that are already in the works, and a few cool ideas that I already came up with, that all of this can be accomplished and more. Now ask yourself these questions:

  • Could you ever go back to being a non-rooted user after having a taste of what android had to offer?
  • Do you think that feeling would be exclusive just to yourself?
  • Do you think that would change if the community was even larger? If there were even more projects? If there were even more possibilities?
  • Is android today really the android of the future?

Ok, well… how are you going to do this?

:: Moving Forward ::

As of right now, there are some general stereotype amongst service providers regarding your typical root user, more specifically the developer/hacker community has become associated with some major financial burdens. For these reasons, one of the most important things we will have to do is completely put these stereotypes to rest. To achieve this goal, we will have to work on formulating new and well founded policies that will ensure we do not let history repeat itself, and that this time around we can provide our service providers with a real sense of security. We are obviously going to be looking to create polices that are inline with our own interests and desires, but please note that we must be reasonable, and certainly cannot expect to be able to hack our way into obtaining services for free.

:: Data Plan Ideas ::

Tethering is a big problem right now but could easily be fixed with the elimination of pseudo “unlimited” plans and replaced with real hard capped plans, real unlimited plans at a higher price range, and a few interesting ideas I have been thinking of. It is ridiculous to treat tethering as if it is something different because it’s not. This entire problem is all regarding the amount of data we consume and how much we should pay for it.

Here is a few ideas I came up with

  • Hard capped tiered data plans
  • A more expensive unlimited data plan
  • The introduction of “Roll-over-data”
  • A system app which will alert you when you are reaching your data limit and present you with the following options:
    • Start using you data from next month now?
    • Buy an extra GB of data for this month right now? – Like a onetime fee, data-on-demand
  • The elimination of soft caps all together, or maybe utilize it in a different way.

:: Warranty Plan Ideas ::

The fraudulent warranty claims need to stop. This is so bad for us and there is no way to justify it. Maybe you can justify tethering with a plan to yourself because of the flawed ‘unlimited’ data plans, but bricking your phone, not trying to fix it, and then sending it in for a full warranty replacement, is ruining our credibility. However, at the same time, if we were to eliminate warranties all together, that too would not be an acceptable solution, because then what happens in the circumstance that a user legitimately receives a defective device. So what’s the solution?

Here is the idea I came up with

  • When you get your totally amazing fully unlocked android device, it’s actually not unlocked at all in fact it’s locked down like Fort Knox.
  • On your device there will be an app called “Unlock” which requires the user to enter a public key which they will either get by calling up their service provider, getting it emailed to them… Or maybe it just comes in the box with your phone.
  • Before you enter this public key into the Unlock app you are on a 15 day (or maybe 30?) full hardware replacement warranty.
  • The second you enter the unlock key, you are prompted with the new TOS which makes your old 15 day full warranty null and void and starts the new developer warranty agreement which is something I have yet to fully develop (probably some repair fee or something…)

:: Bring it all together ::

All of the monetary components associated with the different tired data plans and any other options we come with will then be represented as a [fixed integer + a variable]; where the fixed integer will be the monetary equivalent of whatever is on the “normal user” plan for the same feature; and the variable will be utilized to determine how much we need to increase or decrease any of those values to offset the overall differences in the plan; the goal is to come to a final pricing scheme where the resulting data gives us the price/cost ratio that is nearly equivalent if not more profitable for the service provider adopt in comparison to their “normal user” plan. Then, once we have one monetarily equivalent pricing scheme, then I can utilize that to produce a representative function of how all the components proportionally relate to each other. With that equation, we can then adjust any one component in the function and the rest of them will automatically adjust to account for the change. Therefore utilizing this equation we could automatically generate different pricing schemes that will all be monetarily equivalent from the service providers end.

Once we have these pricing schemes I will build a website which has them all displayed, any warranty agreement ideas we come up with, as well as any other features we discuss, and then allow users to vote on everything. When the user votes, they are not only voting but they are also signing a digital petition which will assert that they are behind this plan and that they would be more than happy to hop on board with any service provider who steps up and adopts the developer plan. This website will also include, a mission statement, a full description of the project, a letter directed towards service providers, and any other information relevant to the cause.

This website will then become our megaphone and we will initiate phase 2 of the plan which I will elaborate on more in the near future. The general purpose of phase 2 will be to get this website a lot of traffic and ultimately to get a meeting with a CEO of a major service provider so that we can turn over our collective IMC and pitch the idea. Phase 3… well that depends on how phase 2 goes… let’s start with Phase 1.

:: Why I Think This Will Work? ::

  • Google want’s to keep android open, I just don’t think they know how. We can show them.
  • Verizon has stopped caring about their customers, they need to be checked, I am hoping that maybe a company like Sprint would see this as a potential opportunity to get ahead, and then could market their competitive advantage over Verizon and show that they have the REAL android on their platform.
  • Because I wholeheartedly believe, from a business standpoint, that there exists an entire market niche which has yet to be properly tapped into and regardless of how small our community exists today, I believe there are million root users out there who just don’t know it yet. I believe that open source is the way of the future and I want to be apart of spreading it.

************************************************** ************************************

Public Announcement – I just received the following information:

  • The percentage of users that are using tethering for free is only 1-2%, about 1-2 million
  • VZW has the ability to see who these users are by sending a simple packet to the phone
  • The amount of data they are using is enough to cause stress on the network for other users
  • The money being lost is not from the data they are using but the money used to build the network so it can sustain the usage
  • There are NO plans to cancel anyone’s account for using tethering illegally
  • VZW is planning on sending notices to those that are using the tethering to begin with
  • The next step will be charging the users for 3G hotspot
  • They are looking into raising the prices of the unlimited plan
  • They have no interest in whether or not users are rooted
  • They have tested a kill switch for the tethering but it has not been perfected. This will only shut off the tethering ability, and leave the phone usable as usual

This information was leaked from a completely anonymous source, interpret it however you like.”

If you would like to contact wug, he has given me permission to post his email; its: wugfresh@gmail.com

Please share your opinions in the comments below.

Links to the quoted information:





3 thoughts on “Future of Android?

  1. The writing was on the wall as described in parts of the article. It’s not a sound business decision on Android’s part to even formulate a Manufacturing Community that would support such an idea. Don’t they realize that they will run their own selves out of business if they do not turn away from this course of action? SMH!

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