Did Motorola Buy a Mobile Operating System?

Motorola is finding success with its Google Android-powered Droid, but the handset maker’s co-CEO has previously indicated that he wants Motorola to have its own mobile operating system and supporting ecosystem. It may have found one, in the form of a Linux-based platform from Azingo. Android and Me notes that LinkedIn now shows an Azingo engineer as being employed by Motorola, potentially indicating that Motorola has purchased Azingo. Such an acquisition would provide Motorola with greater control over software offerings of future handsets, but more importantly, would help the company differentiate itself from competitors.

With such differentiation however, comes the challenge of creating a thriving ecosystem. By using Android for smartphones, Motorola currently enjoys the benefits of the Android developer community and the Android Market. If Motorola were to strike out on its own with a brand-new OS, however, it would lose those important benefits. And Motorola co-CEO, Sanjay Jha, clearly recognizes this, noting on the company first-quarter earnings call:

“I’ve always felt that owning your OS is important, provided you have an ecosystem, you have all the services and you have an ability and the scale to execute on keeping that OS at the leading edge. And I continue to believe that at some point, if we have all of those attributes, that owning our own OS will be a very important thing.”

Azingo’s mobile platform, which debuted in February of this year, is based on web standards for use on touchscreen devices and uses web runtimes for widgets. So if Motorola has indeed purchased the company, it could find itself able to quickly attract programmers that use HTML, CSS and JavaScript to develop mobile software for the Azingo platform. Such an approach is a growing trend in the mobile space — Palm does it with webOS and the Symbian Foundation recently adopted the same web standards usage for mobile app development.

An early look at Azingo’s mobile platform from the 2009 Mobile World Congress shows a fairly robust set of widgets, a WebKit browser, extensive application suites and even support for Flash Lite. Essentially, Azingo Mobile 2.0 is a full smartphone platform on its own, even without third-party software. There’s also specific mention of an App Store for Azingo apps, so if Motorola did purchase the company, it may have acquired not just a new mobile operating system, but the foundation of a supporting ecosystem as well.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

The App Developers Guide to Choosing a Mobile Platform

Image courtesy of Azingo

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