Motorola puts blame on Google for lag on Android updates

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


A Motorola Mobility executive has said Google's practice of creating a flagship model for each software update for its Android mobile operating system is the reason that vendors have a hard time keeping their devices up to date.



Christy Wyatt, senior vice president and general manager of Motorola's Enterprise Business Unit, pointed a finger at her employer's future parent company in an interview with PC Mag earlier this week. According to her, optimizing Android to specific hardware profiles is a difficult task that handset makers must deal with after Google releases the software into the wild.



"When Google does a release of the software ... they do a version of the software for whatever phone they just shipped," she said. "The rest of the ecosystem doesn't see it until you see it. Hardware is by far the long pole in the tent, with multiple chipsets and multiple radio bands for multiple countries. It's a big machine to churn."



After support is finished for a handset's hardware, Motorola's custom software must then be added before the devices are re-certified by carriers, she said. Working with carriers also makes it difficult for Motorola to provide specific projections on when the updates for its devices will arrive.



"I would have to know that every single operator I have is going to want to upgrade every single product, and sometimes they'll want to control the timing ... it's just not easy to make that blanket statement," she told the publication.



Wyatt did boast that Motorola has beat out its competitors on multiple occasions. "More than once we've come out as the fastest to get to market with an upgrade," she said.



Several Android vendors, including Motorola, spoke up late last year to explain why the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update would take months to arrive on their own devices. At the time, Motorola also attributed the delay to Google's decision to work with one device partner for a "Google Experience Device."



Though Motorola may be hoping to get an earlier look at Android software once Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of it is completed, Google has said it will run Motorola as a separate business and Android will "remain open."



In fact, Google has sent mixed messages about what exactly it intends to do with Motorola. A blog post from CEO Larry Page shortly after the deal was announced implied that the acquisition was mainly about shoring up Google's intellectual property portfolio to protect it from legal attacks by Apple and Microsoft. Chairman Google Schmidt, however, has emphasized the move was about more than just patents, as Motorola "has some amazing products." Meanwhile, Motorola competitors have said that Google reassured them that it would not become a "hardware manufacturer" by acquiring Motorola.



Samsung could stand the most to lose if Google begins to favor Motorola, as it has grown to become the world's second-largest smartphone largely by piggybacking off the Android platform. The South Korean handset maker has reportedly moved to strengthen its Bada smartphone platform and signed a patent licensing deal with Microsoft because it was unsure of the future of its relationship with Google.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    The irony with how Moto feels. Funny considering XDA devs can bring updates to phones, *relatively* bug free in less time than OEM's can
  • Reply 2 of 47
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Ultimately Moto is to blame Christy, since it was their decision to outsource OS to a third party or not, and they have to answer to their customers for that, and blaming the subcontractor is a cop out.
  • Reply 3 of 47
    iqatedoiqatedo Posts: 1,606member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... Google has said it will run Motorola as a separate business and Android will "remain open."







    Strange bedfellows!
  • Reply 4 of 47
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Coolaaron88 View Post


    The irony with how Moto feels. Funny considering XDA devs can bring updates to phones, *relatively* bug free in less time than OEM's can



    The slaves at XDA don't have to worry about dealing with customers when things like the camera or phone calls don't work due to various drivers not being properly coded.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    The slaves at XDA don't have to worry about dealing with customers when things like the camera or phone calls don't work due to various drivers not being properly coded.



    yea but teams like CM do bug testing BEFORE they release anything beta...they do release RCs but not betas or alphas even.



    If they can do it in their free time a large billion dollar corporation can.



    Now I'm sure, and I've said before (maybe not here) that Google can do a lot more to appease their customers' customers but to solely blame them is ridiculous.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    The slaves at XDA don't have to worry about dealing with customers when things like the camera or phone calls don't work due to various drivers not being properly coded.



    That doesn't excuse Motorola since these developers get their ROMs running in beta in less than a week and squash the bugs the week after. It should embarrass these companies that independent developers can get a fully functional OS running on a new device in such short time. The real problem, which Motorola is loath to discuss, is the custom skins with which OEMs encumber their devices. These skins cause more bugs and performance issues than any of the custom ROMs built by developers.
  • Reply 7 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    The slaves at XDA don't have to worry about dealing with customers when things like the camera or phone calls don't work due to various drivers not being properly coded.



    Thats cause they did not make the phone
  • Reply 8 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wakefinance View Post


    That doesn't excuse Motorola since these developers get their ROMs running in beta in less than a week and squash the bugs the week after. It should embarrass these companies that independent developers can get a fully functional OS running on a new device in such short time. The real problem, which Motorola is loath to discuss, is the custom skins with which OEMs encumber their devices. These skins cause more bugs and performance issues than any of the custom ROMs built by developers.



    Ditto!



    I have iOS and Android, both are fine system, each with it's own strengths. The only reason I favor iOS more, it is simply less bloated, I even stop jailbreaking it.



    That said, I think C.Wyatt does has a valid point. Android updated are generally so poorly roll out by Google and more so when it gets to OEM stage. You really don't get an OS update with Androids unless you purchase a new phone and that's for the birds.
  • Reply 9 of 47
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wakefinance View Post


    That doesn't excuse Motorola since these developers get their ROMs running in beta in less than a week and squash the bugs the week after. It should embarrass these companies that independent developers can get a fully functional OS running on a new device in such short time. The real problem, which Motorola is loath to discuss, is the custom skins with which OEMs encumber their devices. These skins cause more bugs and performance issues than any of the custom ROMs built by developers.



    You've never had to deal with customers whose phones stop working, have you?



    Rolling out Android ROMs that have not been thoroughly tested with both the OEM's and phone company's software and the equipment the networks run on is not a viable option for companies that have to support millions of customers, who are well within their rights to take legal action if things break.



    The unpaid developer slaves at XDA can release any crap they feel like to a minority of people who are willing to take the risk if something goes wrong.



    Anyway call me a cynic but I believe this action of Motorola's is a smokescreen to throw out a perception of some sort of independence from Google as a show for anti-trust objections to the takeover.
  • Reply 10 of 47
    Moto wagging it's tail to look like an independent player in this litigation is pathetic.
  • Reply 11 of 47
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Ah!



    The beauty of iOS.



    Guaranteed, regular updates!
  • Reply 12 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AbsoluteDesignz View Post


    yea but teams like CM do bug testing BEFORE they release anything beta...they do release RCs but not betas or alphas even.



    If they can do it in their free time a large billion dollar corporation can.



    It's not a matter of 'can Motorola do it', because obviously they could, provided they throw enough money at it. The question is: 'can Motorola do it and still make a profit on their phone business'. Seeing that they haven't been profitable for about a decade of doing things they way they are doing it now, I'd say: no, Motorola cannot afford to spend enough effort, manpower and money to provide stable OS updates at regular intervals, in a timely fashion, for every phone they sell, and still be profitable. Which kind of proves the point that you should not buy a Motorola phone if you care about updates, because you might never get any, or you'll get them after the phone is already up for replacement. The same holds for many other Android manufacturers by the way, besides Nexus phones I wouldn't bet on any brand for OS updates except maybe flagship Samsung Galaxy phones.



    Comparing a bunch of hackers who dick around with custom Android ROMS in their spare time, without getting paid, and without the QA and support burden that Motorola has, without having to negotiate with carriers and such, without having to port all the Motorola-specific crap bolted on top of stock Android, is pretty naive.
  • Reply 13 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    You've never had to deal with customers whose phones stop working, have you?



    Rolling out Android ROMs that have not been thoroughly tested with both the OEM's and phone company's software and the equipment the networks run on is not a viable option for companies that have to support millions of customers, who are well within their rights to take legal action if things break.



    The unpaid developer slaves at XDA can release any crap they feel like to a minority of people who are willing to take the risk if something goes wrong..



    ^ this
  • Reply 14 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...Motorola's custom software must then be added before the devices are re-certified by carriers, she said.



    Herein lies the ultimate problem. Even Samsung claimed they couldn't provide updates cause they couldn't fit the TouchWiz UI in with ICS ROMs...or something like that. I can't recall exactly what the issue was, but if this is that big of a deal to these companies, then drop Android for something else...or fork it...or whatever. Otherwise give up on making it seem like you have to distinguish yourself amidst a sea of other Android OEMs. Windows doesn't have UI layers made by Dell or HP...they distinguish with designs that largely mimic MacBooks. Oh wait...that whole copying thing is not working out for you is it Samsung?



    Wow.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,764member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    Anyway call me a cynic but I believe this action of Motorola's is a smokescreen to throw out a perception of some sort of independence from Google as a show for anti-trust objections to the takeover.



    Of course it's independent. There's been no approval by either the US or European authorities for the sale to take place. Google put in contract terms that require any new actions after Google's offer must be run past them (according to the only source I saw mention it, FOSSPatents). That's only common sense of course, assuring that Moto doesn't take on any new commitments or obligations that would materially affect their value prior to an actual change in ownership. I would be shocked if similar requirements weren't included in Apple or anyone else's offers to purchase.



    Recently ATT made a purchase offer for TMobile. They didn't own or control them until the deal was approved by the US. You know what happened there. It cost ATT a bundle. Google's on the hook for the same kind of payout to Moto if the deal doesn't get approval for any reason.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Does anyone else here that Waaambulance?
  • Reply 17 of 47
    john.bjohn.b Posts: 2,720member
    Quote:

    Christy Wyatt, soon to be former senior vice president and general manager of Motorola's Enterprise Business Unit...



    Fixed.
  • Reply 18 of 47
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by d-range View Post


    It's not a matter of 'can Motorola do it', because obviously they could, provided they throw enough money at it. The question is: 'can Motorola do it and still make a profit on their phone business'. Seeing that they haven't been profitable for about a decade of doing things they way they are doing it now, I'd say: no, Motorola cannot afford to spend enough effort, manpower and money to provide stable OS updates at regular intervals, in a timely fashion, for every phone they sell, and still be profitable. Which kind of proves the point that you should not buy a Motorola phone if you care about updates, because you might never get any, or you'll get them after the phone is already up for replacement. The same holds for many other Android manufacturers by the way, besides Nexus phones I wouldn't bet on any brand for OS updates except maybe flagship Samsung Galaxy phones.



    Comparing a bunch of hackers who dick around with custom Android ROMS in their spare time, without getting paid, and without the QA and support burden that Motorola has, without having to negotiate with carriers and such, without having to port all the Motorola-specific crap bolted on top of stock Android, is pretty naive.



    Somewhere in there is faulty logic.



    Assume, for a second, that since the beginning Motorola began supporting their phones quickly and often...perhaps in this non-existent reality their profits would've been better, no?



    So yes, it was possible...also the cost of paying, say, 40 engineers or developers, or whoever would be in charge of this say, 80k a year is only 3.2 million...that 3.2 million could've saved them a LOT of money assuming better updates and software reliability = more/returning customers.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,620member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    . . . optimizing Android to specific hardware profiles is a difficult task that handset makers must deal with after Google releases the software into the wild.



    "When Google does a release of the software ... they do a version of the software for whatever phone they just shipped," she said. "The rest of the ecosystem doesn't see it until you see it. Hardware is by far the long pole in the tent, with multiple chipsets and multiple radio bands for multiple countries. It's a big machine to churn."





    There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth, the root of Android's future downfall. This task of customizing and fine-tuning Android for multiple smartphone models will just get more and more expensive time and resource wise as smartphones become more and more complex.



    Very early in the auto industry's history there used to be independent engine builders and independent coach builders. As the car became more complex, those outfits either merged or disappeared because they couldn't keep up with the integrateds.



    Well actually, if the Android handset mfrs shrink to one or two survivors, then Android just might survive. But unless Moto is one of those survivors, Google will lose any semblance of control over Android. And it's looking more and more like if there will be a survivor, it will be Samsung not Motorola. (Unless Google puts the squeeze on Samsung, which would be fraught with so much legal risk.)
  • Reply 20 of 47
    jetzjetz Posts: 1,293member
    What BS. If the OEMs didn't put out a dozen phones every year (with several being only slight variations of an original) and if they didn't tack on ridiculous bloatware, they wouldn't really have a tough time updating the phones.



    Google isn't entirely blameless. But they certainly don't deserve most of the blame.
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