HTC has promised to allow unlocking of their phones bootloaders within the coming months. Most see this as a hat-tip to the custom ROM and open-source community. Perhaps there’s more to it than just that.
We all know that Apple’s patent war with virtually everyone isn’t going away. HTC has entered into patent agreements with Microsoft, but they may not be enough to protect them from Apple.
Could HTC be looking into skirting the patent issue completely by offering a “blank slate”?
Sure, it’s a stretch, but let’s imagine for a moment an HTC device that’s OS agnostic. It would come pre-loaded with a bootloader (unlocked, of course) and the ability to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or 3G — that’s it.
This simplistic shell could be pre-programmed with a list of possible ROMs that could be loaded onto the device — and for those of us who prefer a custom ROM, we’d be able to manually input a ROM server. Note that no ROMs would actually be stored on — or distributed with — the device.
The first part isn’t difficult to comprehend. HTC’s HD2 and HD7 are very similar devices, the former started out with Windows Mobile and has gotten Windows Phone 7 and Android ports, proving not only that a generic set of hardware can run multiple operating systems, but that it can do so with relative ease.
Why would HTC do this you ask? Simply put, they’d be able to distribute their hardware without worries of infringing on any software patents. (Hardware patents, however, might still get in the way, but they’re usually not as ambiguous and overreaching as software based patents are.)
What do you think? Could HTC or any other hardware manufacturer ever embrace a completely “open” hardware platform? Would you be interested in shopping around for the hardware that you want, and load the operating system of your choice? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.