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Only a year ago, HTC was considered the nimble underdog of the Android universe. With success after success, from the Desire to EVO 4G, the Taiwanese company could do no wrong. For mainstream users and hackers alike, its phones were well-designed, top of the line devices that, while perhaps not explicitly encouraging hackers like Cyanogen, did not effect huge barriers to prevent them access to the Android innards that lay beneath.

This all changed in early 2011 when it was confirmed that the bootloaders of the Incredible S, Desire S and subsequently released phones would not only be locked, but encrypted. For those who don’t speak geek, the bootloader of a phone, like any PC, contains a set of instructions telling the hardware what operating system to load, what drivers to use and, in this case, whether to allow alterations to this schema.

Motorola made waves a couple years ago when it was revealed their devices would have locked bootloaders, preventing the loading of custom ROMs, radios and recoveries that were proliferating through various HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson devices. Sony Ericsson even recently deployed a bootloader unlocking service which, while voiding the warranty, provides a sanctioned way for developers to tinker with the software innards of the Xperia arc and Play.

HTC recently caught a lot of flak for releasing the much- hyped Sensation and EVO 3D with locked bootloaders, preventing the creation of custom ROMs for the devices. In a recent statement, however, posted on their Facebook page, the company said:

“Thanks so much for providing feedback, we hear your concerns. Your satisfaction is a top priority for us and we’re working hard to ensure you have great experiences with our phones. We’re reviewing the issue and our policy around bootloaders and will provide more information soon. Thank you for your interest, support and willingness to share your feedback.”

While nothing concrete, the post is a necessary and welcome capitulation from their recent hardening on the subject. Speculation has run rampant in the Android community over why the company started locking bootloaders in the first place — from carrier pressure to escalating return numbers due to hacking mishaps — but whatever the reason, they’ve seen the PR light and have decided to avoid the continuing bad press. Let’s hope it translates into action sooner rather than later.