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Motorola CEO Chides Android App Performance, Calls Kettle Black?

Motorola (NYSE: MMI) CEO Sanjay Jha caused a bit of a stir Thursday when he declared that the leading cause of returned Motorola handsets running Android was application performance, a calamity he blamed on the free-for-all that is the Android Market. But Jha has some further explaining to do prove Motorola itself isn’t at the root of some of those problems.

Specifically, Jha told attendees at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology conference that Motorola is working on ways to be able to warn users when Android applications running on Motorola’s Motoblur phones are drawing too much power, according to a report from IDG News Service. Motoblur is a custom user interface developed by Motorola in hopes of setting itself apart from other Android phone makers, which is a pretty common strategy in that field.

Around 70 percent of Motorola phones that are returned are sent back because of application performance issues, Jha said. And Google’s lack of specific power-and-performance-related tests for applications in the Android Market is the culprit, according to the CEO.

However, while Jha may be on to something, he glosses over the fact that custom user interfaces like Motoblur actually contribute much to the drain on Android handsets, whereas users of so-called “pure Google” devices like the Nexus S often report much snappier performance compared to phones running things like Motoblur or HTC’s Sense user interface. As Chris Ziegler from This Is My Next put it, “…Motorola’s custom UI and services have always felt heavy — you just get this vague sense that the last lag, stutter, or strange behavior you experienced probably wouldn’t have happened were the phone running either stock Android or a considerably less intrusive skin than Motoblur.”

If Motorola really does have this data on application performance, it could do Android developers a world of good to understand which applications are the worst offenders and how best to clean up their act. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Motorola to release it if the data also exposes how much power is gobbled up by custom Android user interfaces, which Android partners insist they need in order to differentiate their products.