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Is Motorola contemplating drop Android from some of its smart phones and developing its own proprietary OS? Analysts say so, and recent hiring pickup at Motorola offers supporting evidence.  (Source: IBTimes)

Thus far Motorola's smart phones and tablets have been almost exclusively powered by Android.
Company has gone on hiring binge, recruiting from Apple and Adobe

The mobile OS market is already pretty crowded.  Research in Motion (RIM OS), Hewlett Packard (webOS), and Apple (iOS) both make operating systems for use on their first-party devices.  And Microsoft (Windows Phone 7) and Google (Android) both produce operating systems which they license to device partners.  So does the mobile space really need another operating system?

Motorola Mobility, one of the top Android phone-makers, reportedly thinks so.  In a surprising move the company is poaching engineers at Apple and Adobe in what, according to reports, is a major commitment to designing its own smart phone operating system.

Jonathan Goldberg, an analyst with Deutsche Bank in San Francisco comments in an interview with Information Week, "I know they're working on it. I think the company recognizes that they need to differentiate and they need options, just in case. Nobody wants to rely on a single supplier."

Analysts indicate what is less clear is when we might see the finished product or what stage the operating system is at.

The company's acquisitions point to a web-standards based operating system, similar Hewlett-Packard's webOS.  Among the hires was Gilles Drieu, who was a former head of Apple's rich media and applications group.  Mr. Drieu has worked closely with Web standards groups WhatWG and W3C and holds numerous Web-related patents.  He is now a vice-president a Motorola Mobility, and reports indicate he may be heading the OS project.

Reportedly Motorola is frustrated with the fragmentation of the Android operating system (as Google refuses to enforce a strict hardware spec and relies on hardware makers and carriers to tweak and push out OS updates).  It also reportedly is upset about lack of support.

A source close to the project is quoted by Information Week as accusing, "Google is shooting itself in the foot."

Motorola remains one of the best selling producers of Android smart phones, with models such as the Droid, Droid 2, Droid X, and Atrix 4G.  It also relies on Android for its recent tablets push, which began with the launch of the dual-core Android 3.0 Honeycomb-packing Motorola Xoom.

A Motorola spokesperson states, "Motorola Mobility is committed to Android as an operating system."

Committed perhaps, but not too committed to seek alternatives, according to reports.

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Two Things
By bplewis24 on 3/23/2011 11:27:11 AM , Rating: 4
1) If Motorola wants to diversify it's product portfolio so as to not put all of it's eggs in one basket, why not go with Windows Phone 7 instead of committing all of those resources to designing it's own OS which has even less of a chance at gaining significant market share?

2) This statement makes no sense and reeks of pure speculation:

Reportedly Motorola is frustrated with the fragmentation of the Android operating system (as Google refuses to enforce a strict hardware spec and relies on hardware makers and carriers to tweak and push out OS updates). It also reportedly is upset about lack of support.

The lack of strict hardware specs is beneficial to manufacturers like Motorola and almost nobody else. Motorola would have no incentive to not like this policy as well as Android "fragmentation" (still FUD), as evidenced by the fact that they have put out many successful form factors and they constantly apply their own skin on top of Android. Neither of those would be possible if Google had more stringent standards.

If a company wants to keep overhead as low as possible, licensing a near-free OS like Android, keeping it stock and making very conservative hardware to run it and watching it sell like hot-cakes is exactly the dream scenario a manufacturer would ask for. Any other "frustration" is borne out of their own aspirations.


RE: Two Things
By omnicronx on 3/23/2011 11:43:28 AM , Rating: 2
You are kidding yourself if you don't think the Android market is fragmented.

Too many devices on too many versions with vastly different hardware specifications. Its going to hurt them in the long run if they don't do something about it.

In fact Android is the only major mobile OS right now that has devices on three distinct SOCs, all of ARM A8/A9 variants, but different none the less. While this can lower costs, and give a way for manufacturers to differentiate themselves, it also makes the platform a lot harder to maintain.

Add that to the fact that manufacturers can add custom ui's and carriers have far too much influence in the update process leaves a giant hole in what is otherwise an amazing OS.

I'm an Android user, and I love the openness, but some kind of guidelines and/or streamlining is needed to keep the platform successful.

RE: Two Things
By bplewis24 on 3/23/2011 12:02:23 PM , Rating: 4
You are the one who is kidding yourself. Guidelines are needed to keep the platform successful? So if nothing changes, it will stop being the #1 OS in the world? And by when are you predicting that to take place? What year will Android stop being "successful"?

See, that's why it's FUD. Plain and simple, you guys try and spin this "fragmentation" line into a definition that does NOT exist in reality. You give "fragmentation" a negative connotation that exists ONLY within the Android ecosystem.

Do you not realize that iOS is fragmented? Windows Phone 7? People need to really take time, analyze and think about what they're saying instead of just using the same, tired talking points that are nothing but manipulative spin. Fragmentation|=failure.

Too many devices? Do you really want to stick with that line of argumentation? People seriously baffle me with buying into the distortion reality field.


RE: Two Things
By omnicronx on 3/23/2011 12:21:00 PM , Rating: 1
Take your head back in the sand buddy.

You clearly have no idea the hurdles that must be jumped over to do things such as push out updates.

Heck you clearly don't even realize that Google has to perform hand holding for each different kind of SOC to optimize it for their platform every time they do a major revision.

No defined specs mean hardware manufacturers can have any kind of hardware, with little attention to things such as buttons and sufficient CPU/GPU pairing. This makes it harder for developers who often end up making device specific apps.

Then we have the manufacturers having the ability to add their own crappy UI's, which serve no other purpose than product differentiation. Aside from HTC (which is a love or hate thing), not a single custom UI better serves its customers better than what AOSP Android would provide.

Making matters worse, we also bring the carriers into this, each carrier can update their phones as they please. The result is each update process consists of a bunch of juggling between Google, and manufacturer and the carrier.

Every single one of these things slow down the update process, and makes the platform very inconsistent.

So lets sum up fragmentation issues
1)3 different major SOC's
2)No defined hardware makes it near impossible for devs to have a consistant platform to code for. (big reason why there are so few games on Android, hardware varies so much from device to device)
3)Too much manufacturer control.
4)Too much carrier control (Device updates all over the place, not giving updates to push other products

Not a single other platform has as many hurdles to jump over than Android. Fragmentation exists, and while the platform is certainly doing great now, its inconsistencies and extra support burden may turn manufacturers and carriers off, regardless of what consumers are choosing.

RE: Two Things
By quiksilvr on 3/23/2011 1:10:40 PM , Rating: 4
But its Motorola's own damn fault to begin with! If they just made MotoBlur a removable app rather than tying it in so close to the OS, we wouldn't have this problem. All of Motorola's products would be running Gingerbread and Honeycomb without a sweat.

RE: Two Things
By jvillaro on 3/23/2011 12:32:25 PM , Rating: 3
Dear lord... Please explain to us how is WP7 fragmented?

RE: Two Things
By Flunk on 3/23/2011 2:35:01 PM , Rating: 2
There is more than one available screen size? Not all models have hardware keyboards but some do?

This is a pretty short list. I suspect the OP doesn't understand the meaning of the term system fragmentation.

RE: Two Things
By Suntan on 3/23/2011 1:25:57 PM , Rating: 2
Too many devices on too many versions with vastly different hardware specifications. Its going to hurt them in the long run if they don't do something about it.

As a person coming from a Palm Pre and starting to look at the options available running Android, let me tell you, tight vertical integration and complete control over the hardware & software doesn't matter much when your OS updates are slow coming and your app catalog is uncompetitive.

That's what Motorola will have if they try and strike out on their own.

I agree with the notion that they should be putting WP7 on half their phones if they want to diversify and have some semblance of hardware commonality.


RE: Two Things
By Lazarus Dark on 3/23/2011 8:31:31 PM , Rating: 1
I don't think the fragmentation is anybody's fault (except maybe Motorola and HTC and such for grafting on crappy UI's, thus making updates unnecessarily difficult).
Many of us were waiting on a proper smartphone OS, those who thought iOS, WinMobile, Palm, etc, were all missing something. Android was the answer: a standard! So the market for smartphones exploded, chip makers got on the ball and put R&D in high gear to get better, faster chips out. Whatever "fragmentation" there is, is a temporary issue, caused by sudden explosion. I think with Android Ice Cream, this fragmentation phenomenon will disappear, and manufacturers have hopefully learned a valuable lesson about hooking into Android with Blur and Sense, and hopefully will put that stuff in as just add-ons.

You watch, in a year, this fragmentation debate will be a quaint memory.

RE: Two Things
By vision33r on 3/23/2011 11:58:50 AM , Rating: 2
I believe Motorola has a WP7 product just have not announced one until they see more adoption rate.

Imo, they can either go WP7 or license WebOS from HP. Fragmentation in the Android world is only bad because Google is not setting standards nor do they wants to enforce it. Android OS is viral and not only it challenges iOS but it causes internal challenges within.

Android is too easy to hack because it's open source and carriers and handset makers can't control and secure the software without the kids hacking the devices.

Eventually the Android rooting game will stop at some point when carriers can't enforce bandwidth or feature restrictions.

RE: Two Things
By bplewis24 on 3/23/2011 12:06:44 PM , Rating: 3
Android is too easy to hack because it's open source and carriers and handset makers can't control and secure the software without the kids hacking the devices. Eventually the Android rooting game will stop at some point when carriers can't enforce bandwidth or feature restrictions.

Now this sounds like a plausible explanation of why a manufacturer would want out of the Android ecosystem (or at least want their own product).

It's a known fact that hardcore Android users want to root their Motorola phones as soon as they get them, and Motorola is fighting back with encrypted/signed bootloaders.

I don't know how Google would help fight against this, but I think it's a plausible explanation for them wanting more control over the OS that runs on their device.

Me, personally, I cannot sympathize with Motorola. I own the original Moto Droid. I may not own another Motorola product because they encrypt their bootloaders. The irony here being that if they stopped locking down their devices, more people would actually buy them and support them.


RE: Two Things
By Suntan on 3/23/2011 1:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
Android is too easy to hack because it's open source and carriers and handset makers can't control and secure the software without the kids hacking the devices.

Point me to a popular phone OS that isn't hacked up, down and sideways...


RE: Two Things
By AssBall on 3/23/2011 2:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
Blackberry 6?

RE: Two Things
By Flunk on 3/23/2011 2:37:30 PM , Rating: 2
Windows Phone 7? It's a hell of a lot harder to hack than Android with the code signing and no installing arbitrary applications.

Nothing is impossible to hack, but there are a lot harder platforms to hack than Android.

RE: Two Things
By Fritzr on 3/28/2011 11:51:39 PM , Rating: 2
Apple's iOS...proprietary, undocumented beyond the official SDK, protected and in other ways designed to thwart hackers.

Ooops there are probably a half dozen rootkit customizers for iOS. Open source probably makes for more reliable rootkit customizers. Personally I would consider ease of designing reliable custom upgrades to be a selling point :P

Maybe they can design a custom OS, encrypt the code in hardware and use ROMs for firmware storage...actually that was tried in the early years with home computers & so the market for custom ROMs and PROM burners blossomed :P

RE: Two Things
By Moishe on 3/23/2011 12:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
I think it's smart to branch out and provide themselves with alternatives... and choosing another existing OS would be a good choice. WinPhone7 is good... but it essentially puts them in the position of having two suppliers to draw from... but still no control.

Motorola has failed to come up with anything compelling in awhile, except for maybe the xoom... but this kind of risk and effort could lead to a fantastic new phone OS and it is possible that Motorola could be the next "Apple" in the phone market. I'm not saying it's likely, but anything is possible. By having only outside OSes they have no chance of innovating on that level. I guess it's a tradeoff that they are considering.

RE: Two Things
By rburnham on 3/23/2011 7:10:02 PM , Rating: 3
One of the things I admire about the iPhone is that it has one OS and that's it. Customers like that, and it makes for easier updates.

Poaching from Adobe
By MeesterNid on 3/23/2011 11:10:55 AM , Rating: 2
Enough said for me. Adobe can't make a half-way decent virtual machine (Flash)...I'm not sure that a mobile OS stack would be a different story for the folks that work(ed) there.

Plus, wasn't Motorola on the brink of bankruptcy (or were they actually bankrupt?) just a couple of years back? So spending money and development effort on something that is going to be centuries too late to market (in technology terms) seems like a way to get back to the brink.

Focus on innovation not on remaking something others have done and done well already.

Here's to living on the edge, Motorola!

RE: Poaching from Adobe
By TheRequiem on 3/23/2011 11:16:59 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly, good luck, Motorola. =)

RE: Poaching from Adobe
By Moishe on 3/23/2011 11:53:27 AM , Rating: 3
If they're using Android and not happy with the experience, it makes sense to try to fix that. I think their complaints of fragmentation and a lack of support are valid. What they are doing *IS* innovation! Whether or not its wise or it works in the end is debatable.

Their options are:
1. Ignore the problems and forge ahead with Android
2. Keep Android but form a closer partnership Google to resolve the issues (which will cost Motorola something)
3. Keep Android and spend money to see if they can come up with a potential alternative just in case they need it.

No company likes to have their business out of their own control to a large extent.

RE: Poaching from Adobe
By Azethoth on 3/24/2011 6:28:23 AM , Rating: 1
All Y'all are missing a big thing: having your own phone OS = picking who gets to advertise on your phone. That means you get advertising money from Bing or Google or MotoAds or whatnot.

In other words, you are doing what Google did with Android for the exact same reason: revenue.

Control over the OS is not just something Apple does because Jobs is a dick. It is something they do to make money from ads.

Advertising: its what makes the internets go. Well that and pron.

Uhm and yeah, I 2nd the good luck part. I am very skeptical.

By Souka on 3/23/2011 11:18:55 AM , Rating: 5
I just want Moto-blur to die....

Backout plan?
By Mitch101 on 3/23/2011 11:23:50 AM , Rating: 2
If your going to take a shot now is the time just have a backup plan or sell multiple lines so if it fails your not rushing back to plan b.

There is room.

Android should be sending a message to Apple that the iPhone is not the end all be all of Phones they think it is. Great phone but obviously missing something that people are getting droids.

Apple policy and lack of flash support just plain hurts.

Android should be looking at where they are going wrong with the lack of standards fragmenting their devices. Similar to what causes linux so many problems is one of its positives sometimes your just too customizable and that causes fragmentation.

Microsoft being the new player has a shot at becoming a major player. I personally think they have a winner of a device that's as good as the Droid and iPhone weather anyone agrees or disagrees I could care less its my phone and OS of choice for me.

HP with WebOS is well respected among those who use it I cant say much other than my experience with HP products of late has not been positive but everyone experience is different.

Blackberry again I think will be the big loser here. 2.5" screens are dead rim get your storm battery life and applications in order fast. I think RIM will significantly decline in BUSINESS market share over the next couple years the newer devices have compatibility problems between each other and bugs that rim wont recognize or acknowledge.

RE: Backout plan?
By Azethoth on 3/24/2011 6:36:38 AM , Rating: 2
"Android should be looking at where they are going wrong with the lack of standards fragmenting their devices"
This is not going to happen. The whole point is to have a common OS running on whatever hardware a manufacturer cares to make. There will be fragging and the gibblets will splatter. If Android dominates the market like Windows did in the PC space then fragging is the price they pay.

On the other hand, if Apple kicks ass due to scale and vertical integration advantages, that may force more to go the Motorola route.

The two approaches remain interesting. It will probably have a familiar ending: Apple will have a minority unit share, but a majority hardware profit share. Similarly Google will make a ton of money off adds but the Android makers will eek out miserable lives making commodity products with bleeding razor margins.

By SkullOne on 3/23/2011 11:41:07 AM , Rating: 2
What? All of Motorola's devices in the last two years save the Cliq are Android 2.2 and the Cliq is their own fault. How can they be upset with fragmentation that doesn't exist on their devices?

It sounds more like they want an excuse to be able to keep everything in house and not have to compete with HTC, Samsung, and Sony anymore.

Screw you Motorola. This is why my Droid was retired for a Thunderbolt. You don't give a crap about your customers. Thus why we have things like encrypted bootloaders. Android made Motorola relevant again. Hopefully, they fall on their face hard if they actually go through with this.

RE: Fragmentation?
By Flunk on 3/23/2011 2:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
Fragmentation refers to differences between different handsets in the market that make it difficult to write applications that will run on all of them.

It's hard for developers to support 4 versions of an OS at once as you do with Android right now (1.6,2.1, as well as supporting the basically infinite combinations of hardware.

It has nothing to do with Motorola's lineup.

Biting the hand that feeds
By petrosy on 3/23/2011 7:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
Android saved them from going bust.... now the throwing the toys out the cot.

Please Moto...stop acting like babies and keep making decent devices with out MotoBlegh!

RE: Biting the hand that feeds
By vision33r on 3/23/2011 9:36:32 PM , Rating: 2
The latest data from 4th quarter 2010' eco data shows they've dipped a bit from previous quarters and that's not a good sign when your business is slowing down in the most pivotal quarter of the year.

A lot has to do with the iPhone 4, Samsung devices winning, and the lack of 4G product until now.

The Xoom failure will cost them, it maybe too late to save the Xoom as an onslaught of Android tabs will make its way on to the market.

The question now will be who will be #2 tablet maker.

At least WebTop is cool
By Red Storm on 3/23/2011 11:22:25 AM , Rating: 2
Count me among the doubters, but they did do a fairly nice job with WebTop (which I personally think is what Google's Chrome OS should have been from the start. Android hookup to a screen/laptop = Chrome).

By Breakfast Susej on 3/23/2011 11:40:04 AM , Rating: 2
Motorola must be longing for another brush with it after their previous one. Or so it would appear with the moves they have been pulling lately.

The Atrix being a locked down mess when it could have been the most awesome thing ever for example.

This company seems hell-bent on meandering toward failure.

Complaints about Android
By barich on 3/23/2011 2:38:55 PM , Rating: 2
If Motorola would duplicate the success of the Droid by releasing a phone with stock Android instead of slowing it down and adding bugs with Blur, it would eliminate the majority of the problems they're experiencing. Fragmentation? Google's Nexus phones all have Android 2.3. No Motorola phones do. Whose fault is that?

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