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Inside Motorola's Android Phone

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BusinessWeek says Motorola, the beleaguered Schaumburg, Ill.-based handset maker is working on an Android OS-based phone — not that it should surprise anyone. Former CEO Ed Zander was quick to sign up for the Google-sponsored Open Handset Alliance.

Sanjay Jha, who now heads up Motorola’s handset business (which is likely to be spun out some time soon), was another proponent of Android, back when he was the COO of Qualcomm. (Related: GigaOM Interview with Sanjay Jha.) Here are some notable bits about the upcoming phone:

  • Motorola is showing specs and images to carriers.
  • The phone could be introduced sometime in second quarter of 20098.
  • The phone will have a touchscreen the size of iPhone screen and a slide-out qwerty keyboard.
  • The phone will focus on social networking features.
  • The team spearheading the Android development is the one that came to Motorola via acquisition of Good Technology.

The new phone based on Android may not be such a bad idea for Motorola, but the company needs to rationalize its vast array of devices that use an equally confusing number of operating systems. In addition to Android, Motorola has two different Linux efforts — its internal version and LiMo-based Linux devices — as well as Motorola’s proprietary operating system, Qualcomm’s Brew and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

By focusing on fewer operating systems, the company can help focus its resources on phones that are competitive with newcomers like Apple. The big question now is: Can Android provide Motorola the chance to make a comeback and become a player in the lucrative high-end smartphone business?

21 Responses to “Inside Motorola's Android Phone”

  1. @Om

    “…I like the company’s ability to engineer good phones, but not their software abilities.”

    Ok, but if the goal is to turn a handset’s address book into a social network, then I would have more confidence in a company that has been making phones for 20 years ( Moto ) over the exact same idea being done by a software start up ( Sky Deck ). Applying “weight” to whomever calls you the most isn’t that hard if you are the handset maker, doing so without intimate knowledge of the hardware, like Sky Deck, seems more like guess work, or trial and error.

  2. @ Svetlana Gladkova I couldn’t agree more. The social networking and mobile phones is a trend that is seriously overblown. it is total spin. i am looking at my facebook on iPhone and that is the right kind of social networking app. I don’t need apple to do it for me: facebook did a good enough job. Similarly i can get their app on BBerry and Android and it would be cool.


  3. @Todd,

    Well it is interesting you say that and yes the Motorola brand is pretty tarnished. People just don’t expect them to do anything major or anything ground breaking … or so the perception is. I like the company’s ability to engineer good phones, but not their software abilities.

  4. Yuvamani

    Since the “Good” team is working on this. i was hoping to see some exchange integration (though that would not seem the case if they are concentrating on ‘social networking” )

    Motorola should kill a lot of the os’s on the phones they have. All of them seem to compete on which sucks more.

    There was a good reason to have your own os for strategic purposes. Now the rules of the game have changed and the handset business is in trouble. Nix your own os and instead add features to a os like android …

  5. Why is it when Skydeck proposes the same idea it’s the billion dollar darling of VCs, but when Moto proposes the same thing everyone criticizes it? Is the Moto brand name THAT tarnished?

  6. I tend to think that social networking functionality of the phone seems to be more of a marketing plot for Motorola – otherwise I don’t see any reasons to work on any Android applications for the hardware manufacturer when they could easily rely on third-party developers to code all the required social functionality.