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[Q] Why do the carriers want phones so locked down?

OP Cozume

16th February 2014, 07:52 PM   |  #1  
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It seems to me that the carriers are the one who push the phone manufacturers to lock down their phones so tightly. What is it that we can do with our phones, other than say get free WiFi tethering, that would be so bad for the carriers if they were more easily modifiable?

Is the problem with the added cost of having to have reps to deal with the myriad things that can go wrong if a device is more easily modifiable?

Or is there something dangerous to the network that you could do if you can modify the device?

Why is it so terrible to the carriers for us to be able to mod our devices?
16th February 2014, 08:07 PM   |  #2  
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The simplest answer I can think of is people who root their device and install custom roms and such have a bigger risk of bricking the phone. These things void the warranty, but in many cases people can get their phone to appear to have been unmodified. So now they have to pay to replace the users phone who technically voided their warranty but are able to put it back in a way where it looks like it was never voided.

Another potential reason is that carriers put things on their phone in an attempt to get you to sign up for more of their services, but with rooting you can remove or replace any of these services without them being able to "market" it to you. Think VZ Navigator. Verizon wants customers to pay them to use their navigation software, even if it is super stupid to use it considering Google maps and navigation is free. If you root you can remove VZ Navigator from the device completely. I think this specific argument is a bit dumb, but the best I can come up with at the moment.

One more, there maybe many noob users who root their devices and create big problems by doing so. Carriers do not want to have to devote technical support resources to customers who screw up their device through mistakes caused by them rooting it. If they publicly say they allow rooting, they give people the okay to contact their tech support teams for mistakes the user made. Rather than add that cost and hassle, easier to try to prevent noobs from doing it.
16th February 2014, 08:31 PM   |  #3  
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yes, those reasons all seem to make sense! It's all about money.
16th February 2014, 10:16 PM   |  #4  
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An additional reason I can think of is that many users who root their devices do so to install custom ROMs, which often extend the useful life of the device, allowing users to delay or forego the purchase of a new device from the carrier. But I really think the primary reasons are as stated above - the increased support required for modified devices, and the ability of modified devices to access paid services (i.e. tethering) without paying an additional fee every month.

The support issue is easily remedied by Motorola's approach of unlocking the boot loader via their web site - it's easy to do, but they have a record of it being done, so the warranty is void and there's no support burden for the (potentially) modified device.
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