Over this past weekend, it became clearer and clearer that Verizon’s Samsung Galaxy S III had a secured bootloader which would make root access and full custom ROMs more difficult to obtain. Until now, it was unclear if Verizon or Samsung would offer a solution to developers’ complaints regarding the device’s tight security. Verizon has sent a statement to The Verge confirming the locked down state of its Galaxy S III bootloader:
Verizon Wireless has established a standard of excellence in customer experience with our branded devices and customer service. There is an expectation that if a customer has a question, they can call Verizon Wireless for answers that help them maximize their enjoyment and use of their wireless phone. Depending on the device, an open boot loader could prevent Verizon Wireless from providing the same level of customer experience and support because it would allow users to change the phone or otherwise modify the software and, potentially, negatively impact how the phone connects with the network. The addition of unapproved software could also negatively impact the wireless experience for other customers. It is always a delicate balance for any company to manage the technology choices we make for our branded devices and the requests of a few who may want a different device experience. We always review our technology choices to ensure that we provide the best solution for as many customers as possible.
Of course, a generic response like the one above is not what Android developers were hoping to hear. Verizon’s argument about how open bootloaders could negatively impact the quality of their service is called into question by the numerous unlocked devices served by Verizon in the past. As noted by The Verge’s Dieter Bohn, the device has thankfully already been rooted. It’s entirely possible that this root access will allow users to install customized pseudo-ROMs without custom kernels. Still, this isn’t a happy day for Verizon Galaxy S III buyers.