Smartphone makers, particularly Apple have made it difficult to copy anything about, while making a great comms box in other ways. You can receive mobile channels, bluetooth NFC, wifi, nearby devices, s-beam, & the devil knows what else, but not your own pc. Check out www.libmobiledevice.org
Methinks they're afraid of being rooted too easily. If you can back up & restore. . . you can backup, EDIT, & restore!
One solution is to back up data and let the system go to hell. I rooted my first android - a htc dream. It had 5 partitions that I could backup with nandroid and restore with fastboot. Basically, it worked (Android-1.5) this way: One of them is a boot partition. If you did knacker that, the phone was "bricked." If you didn't, you could always reconstruct the others. Rooting consisted of
1. Updating the boot partition with a more accommodating boot loader.
2. Installing a new system - google closed source stuff & mod of your choice.
3. Sorting out the latter in it's new landing place.
This was true as of version-1.5. I'm not sure what has changed. I haven't bothered rooting. The biggest reason for rooting I see now is that you get safety fixes FAST.