In recent years, if a gadget could be "jailbroken" or hacked to run code that the manufacturer or provider didn't approve, it instantly gained geek cred. T-Mobile's newest smartphone, the G2 is receiving large heaps of praise for its solid and spacious keyboard, smooth Android OS and a solid camera with flash. Techies have now learned that when you try to modify its software, the phone automatically resets to factory settings.
This safety mechanism, created by T-Mobile and HTC could potentially change the landscape of hacking on Android and could pave the way for other phone makers to do the same. It's scary to think that a device that you bought with your own hard-earned money doesn't really belong to you. Essentially, T-Mobile is granting you a license to use the G2 but under its conditions and only under its conditions. If you try to go behind their backs and take a peek into the dark side, everything goes back to normal, like nothing happened.
The tug of war between the company and the hackers fighting for control isn't new. To get a better understanding of the struggle, one only needs to look back at the major battles that have been waged so far. For example, Sony vs. PSP custom firmware, Nintendo vs. R4 (flash-cart for running homebrew) and probably the most important one, Apple iPhone vs. jailbreaking. In a recent federal copyright law, the U.S. Copyright Office ruled that jailbreaking is legal, much to the chagrin of Apple.
Obviously consumers who dabble in modifying their gadgets are outraged, but isn't this all standard procedure? Company releases new gadget, hackers open it. Company patches it and hackers keep cracking it. It's a constant cat-and-mouse chase. The only difference this time is that the company has a head start.
Still, let's not wander on the bleak side for too long. T-Mobile's auto-restoring G2 could be a lot worse right? If a new patent filed by Apple that was dug up a few months ago ever comes to fruition, we'll have greater things to worry about — a kill switch that can auto-detect if a phone is jailbroken and then proceed to bricking it.
Take your pick, I'll take sitting in the corner over being grounded for life any day.