Friday, November 4, 2011

Random Thoughts on Googarola

The Google takeover of Motorola and all that it could mean has been rolling around in my head since the first announcement.  Initially the consensus was that google just wanted the patents, then it was made know that google would still run the handset making business, but at arms length. I think there is another completely viable way to run Motorola as a division of Google where everyone, including the consumer and other hardware manufacturers wins.

The simple answer is to run Motorola in the style of Apple. Pick two or three phone styles and stick to them. Release and update about once a year to coincide with the release of a new version of the Android software. To keep the other manufacturers from feeling left out, Google may need to continue the "Nexus" program and release at least one new phone from a manufacturer other than Motorola. alternatively  they could also simply hold a second yearly Android event for the non-Moto manufacturers midway between Motorola refreshes.  As long as Google-Motorola conceded the holiday shopping season, this would probably work well.

The key to the whole thing would be to only release hardware once a year, this does two desirable things.  Most importantly it provides stability in the system for the consumer and the non-Motorola manufacturers. With the expectation of only one hardware release the customer is assured that they have the latest and greatest from Google/Motorola for at least a year and in turn it allows the other manufacturers a ~12 month window to create better, spec wise, phones and tablets than Motorola. In essence make Motorola a once a year deal, similar to Apple, thus leaving the spec race, catering to niche markets and the like to the other manufactures.

In my opinion the most important things that Google has to do with Motorola, is to run them as a confident business, set goals and get a hardware release cycle down. Motorola's current release cycle is a mess. Take the Droid X for instance, we have seen four iterations of this design in less than 16 months (Droid X, X2, Bionic and Razr)  Get the portfolio of devices straight as well, currently Motorola shows 15 android handsets on their site and several of them are the same device, with a slightly altered exterior or simply a different name. This needs to be fixed, if it's a Razr on one network, it should be a Razr on all the other networks. Google should take Motorola back to a power position in the cell phone manufacturing business. Remember the original Razr? It didn't have a dozen different names for different carriers.

The last thing that comes to mind is the need for Google to wrestle some of the power away from the carriers. I don't expect them to do this in an Apple sort of way though.  In this Google should play a little nicer. Carrier branded and preinstalled apps for instance should not go away. However they should be uninstallable for the user.  Boot loader locks should only exist for those corporate users who need them and the OEM software needs to be available for users who choose to put custom roms on their device. Something similar to the BlackBerry desktop suite that allows for a user to restore their device to a stock state.  Rooting is another matter that bugs me, we should be allowed full control over our devices without having to resort to arcane methods to achieve it.

Google with Motorola has the ability to achieve these simple goals, with Google building the software and the ability of Motorola to build good hardware it should be a snap, but I figure they'll bugger it up.

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