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Motorola: We're Now an Android Smartphone House

7 October 2009
SAN DIEGO—Motorola is now completely focused on making Android-based smartphones, Motorola chief executive Sanjay Jha told an audience of 800 software developers today at a conference co-located with the CTIA Wireless trade show.

"Our focus right now quite simply is to become a good provider of smartphones," Jha said. "Internally we will reorganize ourselves to support that mission of ours."

Jha said Motorola will introduce "multiple tens of products" with Android, with "a second product for the holiday season in the US." Some of Motorola's upcoming Android phones will be full-touch phones without hardware keyboards, and others will have QWERTY keyboards, Motorola's vice president of software applications and ecosystem Christy Wyatt said.

Not all of those Android phones will run MOTOBLUR, Motorola's new social-networking-focused UI, Wyatt said.

"Our desire is to see MOTOBLUR as broadly distributed as possible ... but we have to also allow for the fact that there's going to be some customization," Wyatt said.

While consumers won't be able to install MOTOBLUR themselves initially, Motorola vice president of product development Rick Osterloh said the company could work towards that goal in the future.

Motorola introduced their first Android phone, the CLIQ for T-Mobile, last month. Their second phone is widely expected to appear on Verizon Wireless within the next two months.

Jha and other Motorola execs gave a 90-minute presentation before a full day of lessons on how to design the best Android applications. While they didn't break much news during the speeches, Wyatt took some time to define "smartphone" as Motorola sees it.

Future smartphones must have a large, high-resolution display, a robust HTML browser, rich messaging and media capabilities, a multi-tasking multi-threaded OS, and the ability to do over-the-air software updates. Windows Mobile, famously, cannot push software updates over the air. But "I'm definitely not going to argue that Windows Mobile today is not a smartphone," she said. "We have said we were anxiously anticipating Windows Mobile's next version ... [and] we would love to see what they have in the pipe."

Motorola's focus on smartphones doesn't mean they're ditching their entire line of inexpensive, voice-focused feature phones, Wyatt said. But she said the proprietary small-scale OSes that those phones run on have a limited lifespan, and that Motorola's R&D was now primarily focused on smartphones.

Wyatt sees the current smartphone market, which has many competing operating systems, consolidating down to just a few.

"We just don't believe long term it's going to be sustainable ... you'll see the number go from 10, down to 8, down to 5, down to hopefully 2 or 3," Wyatt said. She said she didn't want to speculate as to exactly which two or three OSes would triumph, though obviously they've thrown their lot in with Android.

A range of software partners also announced apps for the CLIQ phone today at Motorola's event. The CLIQ's apps will include Accuweather, the Barnes & Noble eReader, Midomi music search, MySpace, QuickOffice, and the PrimeTime2Go streaming TV application, according to a press release. Of course, the CLIQ will also be able to use the 10,000-plus apps in the Android Market.
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