Motorola’s biggest success to date was when it released the thinnest and sexiest device the world had seen. Since then, the handset-maker has struggled to produce anything like it.
Yesterday, everyone was prepared to see Motorola’s latest form factor that would bring it back from the brink. Instead, what we got was an announcement about an innovative new user interface, or skin, that runs on top of the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android operating system. In fact, the big unveiling had little to do with the hardware, and in many ways, the upcoming CLIQ phone looks like any smartphone with a slide-out Qwerty keyboard. The interesting stuff is the Blur technology running under the hood.
This marks a huge cultural shift for the company, which in the past has always been driven by hardware design. While we didn’t get the entire story, the picture we gleaned during yesterday’s announcement and during a hands-on demo showed that much of transformation had to do with new Motorola (NYSE: MOT) management — and leveraging assets the company already had.
When Sanjay Jha was appointed CEO of mobile devices, he fast tracked a project being worked on by former employees from Good Technology, an enterprise email service that Motorola acquired, and then sold off in February. So, while other divisions back in Illinois were slashing staff, the Sunnyvale office was quietly picking up employees from *Apple* and Google in what has become a long two and a half year process to get to market. Rick Osterloh, Motorola’s VP of Product Development for Android Products, couldn’t help but talk about the project, which had been kept under tight wraps for the past year so well. He said it originated with Jha, who was interested in what the former Good employees were working on. “He liked what he saw and he gave it resources.”
Jha explained the importance of BLUR to GigaOm