Ladies and gentlemen, minutes ago HTC announced that they have been listening to us all along and will reverse their stance on locking bootloaders! The statement comes directly from the CEO Peter Chou and reads:
There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we've listened.
Today, I'm confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience," Peter Chou, CEO of HTC
Devices with locked bootloaders can still be rooted and usually partially unlocked. They could even enjoy custom ROMs (see the Droid X ROM community), but because the system kernel cannot be replaced, these ROMs cannot be considered complete - they can change things on the surface but not under the hood. For example, CyanogenMod, the largest custom Android ROM, requires devices with unlocked bootloaders because it uses a custom kernel.
All devices HTC produced recently came with locked bootloaders of various complexities - the Incredible S/2, the EVO 3D, the Sensation and Sensation 4G, etc., even all the way back to the EVO 4G. Smart hackers were able to crack most of them, most notably the Thunderbolt recently, but some still remain undefeated to this day (Incredible S/2).
This made a lot of users quite unhappy to the point of starting vocal campaigns to get HTC to change their ways. Many vowed to boycott HTC devices until the company comes to its senses.
There is no word yet whether this new position would mean the HTC Sensation and EVO 3D would start shipping unlocked or whether existing devices would get updates unlocking them retroactively, but the message HTC sent to the Android community is loud and clear - "We're back, baby!"
Congratulations to everyone who fought the good fight - victory is ours today. Now if only Motorola followed next...
Source: HTC on Facebook
Quietly Listening image via @FormerlyUncool