Over the weekend we heard reports that Verizon's version of the Samsung Galaxy S III had a locked bootloader, which makes rooting and otherwise hacking the device much more difficult. We reached out to Verizon for more details, and Verizon has confirmed that it is indeed true — detailing its reasoning with the following statement:
Verizon Wireless has established a standard of excellence in customer experience with our branded devices and customer service. There is an expectation that if a customer has a question, they can call Verizon Wireless for answers that help them maximize their enjoyment and use of their wireless phone. Depending on the device, an open boot loader could prevent Verizon Wireless from providing the same level of customer experience and support because it would allow users to change the phone or otherwise modify the software and, potentially, negatively impact how the phone connects with the network. The addition of unapproved software could also negatively impact the wireless experience for other customers. It is always a delicate balance for any company to manage the technology choices we make for our branded devices and the requests of a few who may want a different device experience. We always review our technology choices to ensure that we provide the best solution for as many customers as possible.
Verizon's stance on locked bootloaders isn't really anything new and another reminder (if you needed one) of just how tightly it controls its network, for better or worse. It is disappointing in light of the fact that the same phone on other carriers ships with the bootloader unlocked. The good news, as we noted, is that the locked bootloader hasn't prevented users from rooting the device already. It's an extra hurdle for those looking to add a custom ROM to their Galaxy S III, but fortunately not an insurmountable one.