HTC commited to unlocking the bootloaders of their phones last year, and did what many considered the absolute minimum they could to fulfil that promise.
An unlocked bootloader meant you could root the installed ROM, make nandroid backups, install a new ROM allowing you to do wonderful things, but we were left with phones that were unable to flash kernels in recovery mode, and unable to flash radios. For many that was not what they considered an unlocked phone.
The flashing of kernels (without the use of a computer) was solved by various developers. TeamWin came up with HTC Dumlock, Joey Krim has Flash Image GUI, and 4EXT produced Smartflash to install kernels from recovery.
The ability to flash radio firmware however has been solidly locked away from users who are stuck S-ON. To update to newer OTA radios, one has to jump through a fairly time-consuming series of steps, and after completion if the radios don't work well, too bad. You can't go back.
Several users who jumped at last Thursday's HTC EVO 3D ICS leak and flashed the untested Virgin Mobile firmware on their Sprint phones have discovered they're stuck with phones that behave oddly, slowly, sporadically, can't activate, and can't erase the traces of what the untested Virgin Mobile firmware did to their phones. The radio firmware wrote carrier information and operating instructions all over the place that just don't work with Sprint too well on some EVO 3Ds.
Flashing back to Sprint radios didn't help all affected because, well, I don't know entirely. Chad from the Anthrax series of kernels had a thread on xda, but that evidently will not continue for other reasons I'm not going into here. This leaves a lot of people with very sickly HTC EVO 3Ds.
The problem it seems, is people expected that S-OFF would be a universal problem solver. Developers rushed to make mods of the leaked ROM and slapped up links to the firmware download and flashing instructions. People installed and ran headfirst into what happens when you flash the wrong radio. Basically one of the old stated reasons for not allowing S-OFF in the first place just happened to a whole lot of people.
There are now potentially a few thousand people out there who installed the firmware and are walking around with semi-zombie phones just judging by first day downloads and Chad's thread.
What's the solution here in the root world? Keep users restricted to S-ON to prevent further lemming-like zeal to test something that requires a radio update and is for a different carrier? Have HTC produce a product to restore your phone to factory shipped? Unlock the phones completely and allow developers to see and edit all aspects of the phone? Perhaps just let the firmware flashers suffer as an example?
I'm leaning toward the full S-OFF approach, an HTC-devised complete restore method, and more programmable phones personally. I'm not sure how far we're going to get when thousands of users will bork their phones in a single day at the prospect of getting the next operating system though.
I'd be interested in what your thoughts are. I'm honestly a little conflicted with this latest set of unfortunate events.