In a move that's sure to please HTC fans who want to root their Android phones, the company has announced that it will no longer be locking the bootloaders on future devices. In a brief post to the HTC Facebook page, CEO Peter Chou said they've made the decision after listening to the overwhelming feedback of customers clamoring for more control over the devices they own. For now it's unclear if the new policy will be retroactive or limited to new handsets.
The initiative is not unique to HTC as several other popular phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S II, are reportedly shipping with an unlocked bootloader. But it will nonetheless improve the company's competitive position in the enthusiast space.
Sony Ericsson recently started providing the necessary tools to unlock their smart phones as well, and Motorola has said it plans to enable the unlockable/relockable bootloader currently found on Motorola XOOM across its portfolio of devices starting in late 2011, "where carriers and operators will allow it."
While people have been able to root their Android devices and flash custom ROMs even with locked bootloaders, shipping devices with an unlocked bootloader takes one step out of the process and makes things easier.
But there are risks associated with the practice, of course. For one thing it will mean that you will no longer be able to install official OTA updates on your device, as there’s a good chance that they won’t be compatible. You also risk voiding the warranty of your phone and if anything goes wrong you may even end up bricking your device. That said, most users are unlikely to ever root their devices and install a custom ROM, and those who do are likely aware of the risks.