Until a few minutes ago, I was dead set on buying Motorola’s new monster Android smartphone, the Droid X. But an idiotic decision on Motorola’s part just lost this customer.
The Droid X ships with Android 2.1, the second most recent version of Google‘s mobile OS. But, like many Android phones, it comes with a special, modified version of Android, specific to Motorola. And, like most of the Android “skins”, Motorola’s software is awful.
But Motorola really, really wants you to use its skin. So much so, that they’ve designed the phone to self-destruct if you load a different OS.
Seriously. Motorola is using a chip called ‘eFuse’ (via MobileCrunch) to verify that your Droid X is running approved software at bootup. If it detects a rogue OS, it deactivates the phone. After that, only Motorola can reactivate it.
This is a huge deal. Until recently, Android has offered a much less user-friendly experience than Apple’s rival iOS. By all accounts, Android 2.2 (Froyo) is a massive step forward. There are still some drawbacks to going Android — most notably Google’s inexplicable failure to organise a central, functional app store — but Android phones now have the potential to appeal to the average consumer, not just techie early adopters.
The Droid X is an amazing piece of hardware. For many, it’s simply too big, but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s as powerful a phone as you can get. And now, there’s a great version of Android out that could be running it. I was genuinely excited.
Android skins are a terrible idea, but they shouldn’t be a big deal. Part of the beauty of Google’s open platform, in theory, is that you can load whatever software you want on to your phone, without waiting for teams of hackers to jailbreak it, as you do with the iPhone.
But Motorola isn’t having any of that.
And I’m not having any of Motorola.
So now what phone do I buy?