Sony Ericsson Promotes Android Bootloader Unlocking

Sony Ericsson recently added a new section to their developer world portal called Unlocking the boot loader. They provide all the information and tools needed to root some of their newer Android phones.

Of course, this information comes from Sony Ericsson dripping with warnings, disclaimers and warranty-voiding rhetoric. Once you’ve waded through all of that, you’ll have to enter your phone’s IMEI number, your name and email address in order to get your phone’s unique bootloader unlock key. Here’s hoping they don’t use the form information to instantly void warranties.

Unlocking doesn’t come without consequences, but from UI tweaks and performance improvements to custom apps and tethering, there are probably more reasons to unlock your Android device than there are reasons to leave it alone. In an age where people are making a fuss about companies adding stumbling blocks for would-be jailbreakers, it’s good to see that at least one of them is doing what they can to help hackers take the plunge. Anyone want to clear up why Sony Ericsson feels like supporting hackers but Sony sues people for doing similar things on the ps3?

Thanks to [flip] | remixed image credit (cc by-sa 2.0): [taka@p.p.r.s]

42 thoughts on “Sony Ericsson Promotes Android Bootloader Unlocking

  1. I was under the impression running software on hardware would not void hardware warranties. Though I can acknowledge that they shouldn’t be responsible for supporting said 3rd party software.

  2. I liked that “it’s a trap” comment :)
    It seems that they have realized they can win more hearts (cash) by opening up, rather than locking up! They’re a commercial company anyway, the bottom line is cash.

  3. > Anyone want to clear up why Sony Ericsson feels like supporting hackers but Sony sues people for doing similar things on the ps3?

    Sony is not a completely homogeneous company. There are different people, making different decisions for different products.

  4. this doesn’t make very much sense why would sony let us unlock the bootloader to their android phones, when sony went crazy when the ps3 got hacked. Maybe this whole thing is just one big conspiracy :O

  5. Sony ericson didn’t make android… so they probably don’t care…just sellin hardware…
    trying to get more marketshare…
    whereas sony did develop their ps3 os… and make profit in keeping the ps3 closed…(the bastards… :D )

  6. @Life2Death

    i was asked by some one with a question on the same lines. I pointed out some of that 3rd party software can control hardware that can damage it. Over clocking for example, or radio firmware tweaks.

  7. And will your name, email and IMEI number be shared with SCEA for them to decide 6 months down the line that you should be dragged through the courts for using Sony hardware in a non-conformist manner?

    Being serious for a moment, doesn’t this really send out mixed signals from brand Sony?

  8. I wonder how monolithic Sony really is. After the Sony-BMG rootkit debacle and the whole geohot thing, I am not inclined to trust them at all. Maybe Sony-Ericsson is better?

    But then, the stance of “You don’t need Android 2.2 when 2.1 plus our proprietary crap is better!”.

    I don’t trust them. But if this is legit, it would go a long way to repairing their reputation.

  9. The contact info will just be used to send you spam.

    Didn’t they also mention that not all phones will be unlockable, and there will be no way to tell which can and which can’t until you try? So buying a unlockable phone becomes a gamble.

  10. Ok, I have figured out the conspiracy. They want you to agree to the new TOS on your PS3 giving them spying rights on your local network, then when you jailbreak your phone, your PS3 will detect when it’s connected to wireless and then exploit a vulnerability contained in the unlocking software from Sony to install a rootkit from your ps3 to your phone, which then causes your phone to become non-functional resulting in you buying a new phone due to the voided warranty. And since you are obviously interested in unlocking your phone, why not go with another Sony-Ericsson and give them more money thanks that oh-so-helpful unlocking software on their website.
    Warning: All conspiracy theories contained in this post are false until proven otherwise, I assume no liability should Sony decide to sue me for libel.

  11. in order to know who the hackers are so they can sue them later!

    or so sony can inject code in to the phone to monitor the hackers

    hell who knows anything is possible in the crazy effing world of sony

  12. “Anyone want to clear up why Sony Ericsson feels like supporting hackers but Sony sues people for doing similar things on the ps3?”

    They need more revenue.

    No, it is another case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.

  13. @DoktorJ

    It would be the other way around… Link name with a IMEI and use the phone to link to a PS3, and allow Sony to gain access to the files on the PS3 to catch the bad law breaking hackers SCEA is digging for.

  14. “Anyone want to clear up why Sony Ericsson feels like supporting hackers but Sony sues people for doing similar things on the ps3?”

    Alright, I’ll bite. Sony Ericsson (the mobile division) does not have the same goals as Sony Computer Entertainment, nor the same management. Their end goals (“make Sony money”) are the same, but how they get there don’t have to be.

    That said, I’m sure it won’t be long until Sony PR or legal gets involved and tells the mobile division to stop encouraging hackers.

  15. The reason why they are doing this is because sony ericsson is a different branch of sony electronics ltd. Comparing ericsson branch to the gameing branch and the less prominent general use electronics branches is like compareing the parts of theorigional $600 ps3 to the guts of a japanese inport cellphone! There is little to no similarities in the guts (IC wise) period! Don’t flame me if I’m wrong. Just make corrections.

  16. Sony is a bunch of somewhat independent companies that sometimes sue each other. Sony Ericsson is even more independent and the direction varies each year depending on whether a Sony person or Ericsson person is in charge.
    It took years for Sony Ericsson to work out proper licensing of content from Sony Entertainment.

  17. Nice inflaming remark, there. Classy.

    Easy to explain, really. For one, this is Sony Ericsson and not Sony Computer Entertainment of America. For another, the phone is subsidized by a contract while the PS3 is subsidized by “getting them to buy games for their console.”

    Sony also doesn’t have a contract to keep movies and Netflix secured on their Android phones.

    We all seem to be forgetting that Sony was a bit out-of-the-box by allowing Linux to run on their console at all.

  18. “Sources” (ok, NDA crap but it can be found on ESATO etc. so what the hell) has a few things to add;

    1. This is a joint-venture, but have no doubt in your minds, this was an Ericsson initiative from the get-go to the say-so. Sony value the control- aspect of things far more than Ericsson(except for letting people get raw access to the GSM/3G/whathaveyou networks, of course). There are heaps of good ol’ fashion hackers and three-letter-group crackers roaming the hallways at SEMC.

    Note that the XPeria Play is surprisingly lose in terms of draconian DRM. The in-fighting surrounding that issue delayed the launch by, at the least, 3 months. Sony are in no-way acting like good guys here, no matter which part of the organisation that happens to be in focus currently.

  19. obviously, sony ericsson provides rooting support because it will help them sell more phones.. like: i want a dual-core in my phone, but i also want to load a custom rom.. Motorola Atrix doesn’t provide such support, and although it is currently the only dual-core phone on the market, that i know of, i’ll probably just get a cheaper phone that i know i wont have to figure out how to root, before i can get rid of the shitty, limited official rom.

  20. Running an OS other than the one supplied without having to modify the bootloader is a process that was solved ages ago. The problem is that the bit of firmware that allowed for that was not really abstracted from the hardware. But there are other solutions out there that do abstract the interfaces in a way to allow for a somewhat generic OS. I hope the ARM world adopts one of these soon and agrees on a standard interface. They could set it up so the internal flash can’t be written with an unsigned OS as it’s a little hard to remove and reflash the built in NAND.
    But what about the SD cards (assuming wear leveling is good enough…or they are cheap enough to wear out and replace)? The bootloader firmware could then give some sort of warning that is is not loading the embedded OS as a sort of basic malware warning (something like “Booting third party OS from external mass storage device. Do you really want to do this?)

    IMHO, the carriers are the bigger stumbling block. They don’t seem to be comfortable with the idea of customer really owning a phone in that they can do things outside of the carriers’ sandboxes.

  21. “Anyone want to clear up why Sony Ericsson feels like supporting hackers but Sony sues people for doing similar things on the ps3?”

    Let me take a whack at it:
    The Sirius Cybern– er… SONY is “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.” An edition of the Encyclopaedia Ga– uh… a Wikipedia article that had the good fortune to fall through a time warp from a thousand years in the future defined the Sir– SONY Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.”

    Does that explanation work?

  22. Or just buy a damn Nexus S. Unlocked baseband, unlocked bootloader, no voiding warranty. Just a $530 stab at your wallet, lol. Just got one after ditching my iPhone 4. Couldn’t be happier! My signal strength is better, and I can load whatever the hell OS I want on my phone without the overlords denying me.

  23. Sony Ericsson =\= Sony Corporation.

    It’s a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Ericsson in Sweden. They have completely different leadership, etc. so they’re bound to make different decisions–for all we know, this could be a push coming from the Ericsson portion of the company… This is in addition to all the other points people have made (not their OS…, blah blah)

  24. I’m a semi-noob, but it would seem that the phone isn’t truly unlocked unless access to both types of antennas was available (GSM as well as CDMA)making the phone usable on any carrier, anywhere. Seems crazy that this isn’t a possibility. The phone would truly be worth the price they want if that were the case.

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