Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Motorola focusing on Android: why it is big news

Today, the Wall Street Journal pretty much reported that Motorola will cut any other operating system to focus on Android. It was the co-CEO talking about it, not some Joe (the Motorola) on the street.

I wrote "pretty much" because they also said they will keep support for Windows Mobile and P2K (their legacy platform for low end devices). Moving away from about half dozen operating systems is already big news. However, if you look closely, he also said they will "outsource" the development on Windows Mobile. A nice way to say "we are not going to focus on it anymore but we still have some business there, so we will not kill it". What about P2K? Well, same as above. It is for low end devices and Motorola has many of them (in particular, in emerging markets), but Android can support middle and high end devices, and that is the future of mobility. Low end devices will disappear quite quickly.

Motorola is focusing all its mobile future on Android. This is the big news.

It is big news for Motorola (and very sad news for the tons of employees that will get a lay-off tomorrow when they announce their numbers), but it is even bigger for Android - and mobile open source in general.

I have been playing with Android. I am still trying to use the G1, but I am about to give up. The hardware is horrible, but the software is very good. And open. Including the source code of all the internal apps being available out there (I browsed through it, it is quite a remarkable amount of code).

What is missing with the G1, to make it a killer device? The device itself... The internal is good, the external is bad.

What does Android need? An hardware vendor that focuses on it. Someone with a big brand. Someone that can come up with a very cool device.

Motorola is that company.

It is easy to discount Motorola. However, look at how strong their brand still is (hey, NFL coaches have the Motorola headset...). And remember they came up with the best selling mobile device ever, the RAZR. It has been the killer device for years. Still the most sold device around.

Motorola can do it again. With focus completely on mobile open source and Android, they can rise again. This is what Android needed (badly). This is what could have prevented Android from becoming a big player in the mobile market.

Not anymore. It is another good day for mobile open source.