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It doesn’t appear that Motorola (NYSE: MMI) will release data backing up its claims that poorly developed Android apps are causing performance problems on Android phones now that it is trying to distance itself from comments made by its CEO to that effect.
IDG News Service, which reported last week that Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha had blamed third-party Android developers for 70 percent of Motorola’s returns, was sent a statement by the company Wednesday arguing that Jha actually meant to say that a combination of factors caused those returns. Of course, he didn’t actually say that: Motorola’s position is that he just meant to say that and didn’t notice until he was quoted accurately that he didn’t mean to say what he actually said. Or something.
In comments available online (skip to around 3:30) Jha begins talking about how Motorola is working on making sure it is putting out quality products by ensuring its hardware works well with software, declaring that “70 percent of all smartphone returns tend to be for software reasons.” He then expands on his point, saying “one of the good and problematic things about Android is that it’s very very open. So anyone can put applications, third-party apps, on the market without any testing process.” He clarifies that there is a testing process for malware but that in general “for power consumption, CPU utilization, some of those things those applications are not tested. We’re beginning to understand the impact that has.”
The clear point he’s trying to make here is that factors beyond Motorola’s control are the reason for returned smartphones, which of course implies that Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and the Android development community have poor quality-control procedures. He then went on to say:
“We’re beginning to understand it and understand why 70 percent of the devices are coming back: because they are downloading third-party applications and the impact that that has on the performance of the device.”
In a statement, Motorola argued that “(Jha) did not state that 70 (percent) of smartphone returns was due to third-party applications, but that examples of potential contributing factors are battery life, sluggish operation and third-party applications,” according to IDG News Service. Judge for yourself.
What’s frustrating about this exchange is that Jha has a point: Android development much more resembles the Wild West than Apple’s iOS development program, which is both a good thing and a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Developers don’t depend on a single clearinghouse in order to release an application, but with fewer hoops to jump through, junk applications can flood the Android Market.
Still, Motorola could clear everything up if it let the Android community in on the performance data that it says it has collected through its Motoblur user interface regarding third-party application performance, which Jha claimed as the basis for his statements. Along with others, we wondered last week if Motoblur itself wasn’t to blame for some of those perceived performance issues that result in returned handsets.
Now that the company wants to pretend Jha never singled out applications at all, don’t hold your breath waiting for that data.