Motorola hedging Android bet with new web-based OS

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Motorola Mobility, which has been Google's only major licensee fully committed to Android, is now working on a new web-based mobile operating system apparently intended to give it more control over its future, enraging Android advocates anew just weeks after Nokia opted against adopting Google's mobile OS.



Word of Motorola's new project was reported by Information Week, which attributed "a source familiar with the matter."



While the company issued an email statement insisting that "Motorola Mobility is committed to Android as an operating system," it did not deny that it was also working on its own competing mobile operating system project.



The report also cited Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg, who said, "I know they're working on it. I think the company recognizes that they need to differentiate and they need options, just in case. Nobody wants to rely on a single supplier."



Goldberg said the company was working to be "financially disciplined" about the new project so as to avoid spooking investors with the idea that the company was "going back to the Motorola of old where they're working on 50 million operating systems at once."



Motorola hiring mobile OS engineers



Motorola has hired developers from Apple and Adobe, including Gilles Drieu, its VP of software engineering, who until last spring headed Apple's rich media and applications group.



The company has also hired Sean Kranzberg, Adobe's former senior manager of Flash engineering, to serve as a director of engineering along with Benoit Marchant, identified a former manager of JavaScript development at Apple.



Motorola formerly worked with the LiMo Foundation (a partnership of companies developing Linux mobile distributions) before abandoning it to back Android. Earlier this year Motorola appears to have acquired Azingo, another LiMo Foundation member company building a Linux-based mobile platform making use of a WebKit browser, a web-based runtime, a Flash runtime, and web development tools.



Motorola's co-chief executive Sanjay Jha also noted last spring during the company's earnings calls that "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."



Who's Xooming whom



The report noted that Motorola's efforts to develop an alternative to Android may relate to the uncertainty of Oracle's ongoing patent and copyright claims against Google's mobile operating system, which is modeled upon aspects of Java ME.



The source behind the news also said "Google is shooting itself in the foot," citing problems related to Android's platform fragmentation, issues with product differentiation among hardware makers, and "issues related to Google's support for its partners."



Google first partnered with HTC to deliver early Android phones before shifting to Motorola to exclusively launch Android 2.0 just as Verizon's "Droid" branded focus on Android phones took off in late 2009. The company then went back to HTC to ship the first Google-branded Nexus One model, then abandoned it to release a Nexus S in partnership with Samsung.



Google has most recently promoted Android 3.0 with Motorola's Xoom, but it is also working to accommodate new tablets from Samsung, Toshiba and Acer, some of which bundle differentiated layers of software to set each makers' tablet products apart.



Everyone's on Plan B



HTC has long supported both Android and Microsoft's Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone 7, and has also launched plans to deliver simpler new BREW-based embedded phones that can undercut the price of Android models. Samsung has also launched its own Bada mobile operating system as an Android hedge.



While most Android licensees are current or former Windows Mobile/WP7 makers, including LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson, other major companies seeking to expand or solidify their standing in the smartphone market have simply ignored Android to pursue an integrated model more like Apple's iPhone.



That list includes HP, which launched its own webOS smartphones and tablets based on its acquisition of Palm; Nokia, which has closely partnered with Microsoft rather than licensing Android; and RIM, which is rumored to be experimenting with an Android 2.x compatibility layer for its new PlayBook tablet but has actually based it upon its acquisition of QNX rather than standardizing on Android, ostensibly due in part to fears of Oracle's Android claims.



Android enthusiasts commenting on the news expressed bitter disappointment with Motorola, with one complaining, "May they rot with their own OS," while another observed, "if some of these execs knew how stupid they sound to the tech world they?d be embarrassed. Can they not grasp the concept of open source? And then ironically the OS they bought is built on Linux just like Android."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 104
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,835member
    Let the fragmentation begin! What is kind of funny is that for decades Apple was the only major hardware reseller owning its own OS. The conventional wisdom has been better to use Microsoft but build your own box. For a while it was looking like Google had supplanted the MS role. Now all of a sudden its hip to have your own OS. If this trend continues Apple's dominance will only grow IMO.
  • Reply 2 of 104
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,716member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Motorola Mobility, which has been Google's only major licensee fully committed to Android, is now working on a new web-based mobile operating system apparently intended to give it more control over its future, enraging Android advocates anew just weeks after Nokia opted against adopting Google's mobile OS.



    Seriously, how much of an Android fanboi do you have to be to get "enraged" when Motorola develops new hardware for an additional platform? It's not like Google is exactly being monogamous when it comes to their hardware partners: first HTC gets exclusive access, then it's Moto, then back to HTC, now it's Samsung? Moto is just demonstrating to Google that they have options.



    Imagine if Dell PCs got first access to Windows 7? With HP, Acer, etc. only getting to ship the same OS weeks or months later?
  • Reply 3 of 104
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    What does the comment about the os they bought is on linux, same as android. I think windows mobile is silverlight on top of windows ce, am I wrong on that?



    I know iOS is unix, and android is a vm on top of Linux, and I believe hp web os is Linux based as well though I'm not sure how much Linux actually comes through to the user level.



    Of all the major phone operating systems I think iOS is closest to being a unix distribution.
  • Reply 4 of 104
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,340member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Android enthusiasts commenting on the news expressed bitter disappointment with Motorola, with one complaining, "May they rot with their own OS," while another observed, "if some of these execs knew how stupid they sound to the tech world they?d be embarrassed. Can they not grasp the concept of open source? And then ironically the OS they bought is built on Linux just like Android."



    It just cracks me up when I read arrogant fandroid statements like this. Personally, I think that Motorola has a very steep uphill climb with their ideas.



    The reason that iOS is so hugely successful is that it brought computing the the masses in an easy-to-use way, and backed it up with quality hardware.



    The reason the XOOM hasn't taken off (i.e. failed), along with the Galaxy is that they marketed it to folks like the fandroid critics above and (once-again) realized in a very painful and expensive way that tech-heads, geeks, and nerds have zero ability (with over-inflated egos) to decide what is best for the consumer.



    Android is fragmenting. Get over it. The hardware that's running honeycomb in their production products is still beta to say the least. These wads clamoring about the superiority of XOOM/Honeycomb just has me ROTFL defending hardware that's not even working out of the box, or in the case of the new Samsung "iPad" killer, it's not even a unit that powers on but for some reason, the fandroids are wetting their beds saying how great this vaporware product is.



    I give motorola credit for trying to not depend solely on Android. In the end, I think it's futile as it will be yet another OS in what's becoming a crowded market.



    I will sit happily on my sofa, eating popcorn in preparation to watch this OS/Hardware battle.
  • Reply 5 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Motorola's co-chief executive Sanjay Jha also noted last spring during the company's earnings calls that "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."



    Jha's statement is the flip side of the famous Alan Kay line that Steve Jobs sewn into the very heart of Apple at the beginning: ?People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.? It's fascinated me that more tech companies haven't followed that philosophy over the years rather than taking the Microsoft approach.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Android enthusiasts commenting on the news expressed bitter disappointment with Motorola, with one complaining, "May they rot with their own OS," while another observed, "if some of these execs knew how stupid they sound to the tech world they?d be embarrassed. Can they not grasp the concept of open source? And then ironically the OS they bought is built on Linux just like Android."



    I'll assume that "Android enthusiasts commenting on the news" are tech geeks and not average consumers with Android devices who probably don't care that much; they just want products that work reliably. That second Fandroid quote is one of the nerdiest things I've ever read. I can practically see the guy pushing his taped-together glasses back in place while he flips out.
  • Reply 6 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sheff View Post


    What does the comment about the os they bought is on linux, same as android. I think windows mobile is silverlight on top of windows ce, am I wrong on that?



    I know iOS is unix, and android is a vm on top of Linux, and I believe hp web os is Linux based as well though I'm not sure how much Linux actually comes through to the user level.



    Of all the major phone operating systems I think iOS is closest to being a unix distribution.



    iOS is just OS-X with a few things missing and a different UI on top, and OS-X is Unix so yeah, it's not certified Unix but iOS is indeed Unix.



    What I find funny is back in the 90's when people were *predicting* that we'd all be walking around with what were then called "pocket computers," the conventional wisdom was that Unix or a Unix-like system was the only way to go. The same open source weenies that now drool all over Android and maintain that there's nothing better, were at that time telling us that Unix or Linux was the coolest and best approach to making a small portable computer. The reasons they quoted were many and varied and anyone who thought different was shouted down.



    Now of course, they somehow think that buggy copy of a Java VM is the cat's pyjamas, and Apple's practically pure Unix OS is somehow junk. :-/
  • Reply 7 of 104
    charlesscharless Posts: 301member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    iWhat I find funny is back in the 90's when people were *predicting* that we'd all be walking around with what were then called "pocket computers," the conventional wisdom was that Unix or a Unix-like system was the only way to go. The same open source weenies that now drool all over Android and maintain that there's nothing better, were at that time telling us that Unix or Linux was the coolest and best approach to making a small portable computer.



    Android isn't a Linux-based system?
  • Reply 8 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Android enthusiasts commenting on the news expressed bitter disappointment with Motorola, with one complaining, "May they rot with their own OS," while another observed, "if some of these execs knew how stupid they sound to the tech world they’d be embarrassed. Can they not grasp the concept of open source? And then ironically the OS they bought is built on Linux just like Android."



    That made me laugh. The average consumer doesn't care if it's open source or not, they just like for it to work. Also, grasping the concept of open source has nothing to do with anything. It's called having options in case one fails. Like if you're an investor, you want to have a diversified set of investments so that one industry coming down doesn't affect all of your investments, right? I think that's a little more practical than simply yelling "GO OPEN SOURCE" because being open doesn't make it good.



    The execs don't sound stupid. They sound perfectly reasonable.
  • Reply 9 of 104
    nubsnubs Posts: 3member
    What's really funny about this is the fact that it's being reported as news even though the original article was completely opinion based with no confirmed proof whatsoever. The conjecture was based entirely on the fact that Motorola hired a bunch of new programmers and designers. The original author even admitted that his entire premise could be wrong and that it was more than probable that the new programers and designers were actually just working on a better version of their sad Motoblur launcher. Talk about bad reporting. FUD at its best here at AppleInsider.
  • Reply 10 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nubs View Post


    The original author even admitted that his entire premise could be wrong and that it was more than probable that the new programers and designers were actually just working on a better version of their sad Motoblur launcher. Talk about bad reporting. FUD at its best here at AppleInsider.



    Are you referring to the Information Week article? Or you just trolling? I didn't see at any point in the article the author mention this?
  • Reply 11 of 104
    I can understand why Motorola would do this. Nowadays you can't earn a decent profit in this industry unless you're vertically integrated and basically have some degree of monopoly power over the consumers. Android is nice in terms of saving costs for these manufacturers, but competition simply wipe out the potential economic profit.
  • Reply 12 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by destroyboredom View Post


    Are you referring to the Information Week article? Or you just trolling? I didn't see at any point in the article the author mention this?



    Didn't you know? Random Fandroid message board poster's speculation is OBVIOUSLY more accurate than the InfoWeek reporter's informed speculation. I mean, as opposed to the Fandroid, who made great efforts to go deep into his emotions to come up with his speculation, all the reporter had was a source in Motorola, and an analyst at Deutsche Bank, who gets paid big bucks simply to follow the company. Clearly the fandroid's guts know far more about Motorola's plans.
  • Reply 13 of 104
    Smart move by Motorola. The mobile market is relatively young and calling this futile is ridiculous.

    No one can predict how the mobile landscape will look like in the next couple of years (unless you are a fan of android coming to the realization that your platform may be in jeopardy as major players defect...).

    Unfortunately for Google and their legion of "open source is the only truth" fans, there will be more defections. A company like Motorola (or Sony/Samsung) has ambitions beyond being a simple commodity phone/tablet manufacturer going after low margins.



    As Steve Jobs said recently, this post-PC era is not about tech specs. It's about the user experience.



    Motorola is taking note
  • Reply 14 of 104
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
    "The report noted that Motorola's efforts to develop an alternative to Android may relate to the uncertainty of Oracle's ongoing patent and copyright claims against Google's mobile operating system, which is modeled upon aspects of Java ME."



    FUD...
  • Reply 15 of 104
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by CharlesS View Post


    Android isn't a Linux-based system?



    It's Java running on top of Linux. I think only games have access to the Linux core, and even that is a recent development circa 3.0 Honeycomb. Other apps only deal with Java virtual machine from what I am able to understand.
  • Reply 16 of 104
    Any of you remember Rio? The company that made them digital media players. Well they went belly up b/c they couldn't get more market penetration. So I feel Moto is doing this so-called next step to distinguish itself from the deluge of honeycomb bull**** beginning to stank up the market place. C'mon people, you know damn well by xmas 2011 there will be tons of tablets on the market cheap and disposable. Moto knew this was coming.How can you be a premiere brand with a free and ubiquitous OS that is pimped by scorers of OEMS?

    It works for the pc but tablets are a different beast. In the end Moto will will be out of the tablet game. They won't get anything of quality, IMHO, out in time with the needed impact to stay in the game.

    Coby(tech bottom feeder!) will have their trash piled high in Target for $49.99 in no time. No customer service,no support nada.
  • Reply 17 of 104
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    The first reason is glaringly obvious. The Oracle lawsuit is the death knell for Android. It's an airtight case, with legal precedent and the Android source code itself as evidence. Microsoft already lost their battle to "embrace, extend, and extinguish" Java. They paid Sun $20 million back in 2001, and were forced to take their JVM off the market.



    Now Google will lose that same battle. They have blatantly copied and attempted to profit from the work the Java team has done. Stealing, then giving away software for free isn't "open" in the sense Rubin was hoping to imply.



    And there's another reason. Google has Microsoft-like poor taste and judgement when designing user experiences. (Need I mention the short-lived Google TV as an example?) Google, like Microsoft before it, figured that users will put up with terrible UIs and ugly designs, but for very different reasons. Users put up with Windows' hideous convolutions because they had no choice. Corporate IT put the pee cee on their desk at work and said "Our way or the highway."



    Now, Android users put up with the generic-aisle look and feel because, oh well, it's free. But the problem runs far deeper than just a cheesy interface. The whole infrastructure is cheesy. The Android market is full of malware and porn, and Google hasn't provided a real alternative to iTunes yet (and likely never will.) Why? Why does Google seemingly not care about the user experience?



    The answer is simple. The only user experience Google actually cares about is the AdMob ads delivered to users. Google's real customers are their advertisers. Google makes 96% of their profits from ads. That's why Android is free. To maximize the number of eyeballs on AdMob ads. And that's why Google has promiscuously done deals with every Tom, Dick, and Harry generic hardware maker, including Motorola. To maximize the number of eyeballs on AdMob ads. Let the manufacturers fight over tiny margins. Let them push each other off the low-price cliff. Let them eat cake.



    Motorola bought Azingo, but all they get is an OS development team. They'll be bringing a newborn baby OS to a superb user experience plus deep infrastructure fight. Against Apple, a deeply entrenched, fast-moving, hardened veteran and undisputed champ of the user experience battle. Good luck Moto. You're gonna need it.
  • Reply 18 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Let the fragmentation begin! What is kind of funny is that for decades Apple was the only major hardware reseller owning its own OS. The conventional wisdom has been better to use Microsoft but build your own box. For a while it was looking like Google had supplanted the MS role. Now all of a sudden its hip to have your own OS. If this trend continues Apple's dominance will only grow IMO.



    Yea, I'm all for competition, but once you get past 3-4 OSs, it gets a little ridiculous. I guess when all phones did was make calls and play solitaire, it didn't really matter. But smartphones are legitimate softawre platforms now...



    It's smart of Motorola to not depend on another company for its business...but still, who's going to buy an OS made by Motorola?!



    Good luck to Motorola, Microsoft, HP, Nokia, and the gang.
  • Reply 19 of 104
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    It's hilarious to see these big established tech boys running around like headless chickens now that smartphones and tablets are all the rage. All this will give Apple even more time to continue to succeed through 2011 and 2012. Wish I knew how Steve was really doing though. Without him in five years Apple could be like the rest of these dingbats
  • Reply 20 of 104
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Android enthusiasts commenting on the news expressed bitter disappointment with Motorola, with one complaining, "May they rot with their own OS," while another observed, "if some of these execs knew how stupid they sound to the tech world they?d be embarrassed. Can they not grasp the concept of open source? And then ironically the OS they bought is built on Linux just like Android."



    Sweet, sweet Fandroid tears!
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