The Motorola Droid is a very hackable phone. It can be overclocked past 1 GHz and devs have even ported HTC’s Sense UI to the device. However, the Droid’s European cousin the Milestone does not share those same qualities.

The Motorola Milestone has a digitally signed firmware that is making it virtually impossible to load custom ROMs on the device. Developers have been asking for help on this issue and Motorola responded.

“We understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with Android system development and re-flashing phones. For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes. At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers, and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.

Securing the software on our handsets, thereby preventing a non-Motorola ROM image from being loaded, has been our common practice for many years. This practice is driven by a number of different business factors. When we do deviate from our normal practice, such as we did with the DROID, there is a specific business reason for doing so. We understand this can result in some confusion, and apologize for any frustration.” Lori FraleighMotodev

Motorola has currently announced nine different Android handsets under twelve different names and the Droid is the only device to boot unsigned images. There was a specific business reason for doing so, but Motorola is not going to share those details. We think the “business reason” was Google decided the firmware on the Droid and they wanted it to be open.

The percent of customers who actually hack their phones is quite small (I’m guessing less than 2%), so don’t expect Motorola to change their practices anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what happens with the firmware on Motorola’s Android phone that is headed for the Google phone store.

For an example of how the development community can move a device forward look at what CyanogenMod has done for the Nexus One.