It’s no secret that part of the reason carriers were so quick to embrace Android in its infancy had a lot to do with how flexible the OS, and the manufacturers making devices, were. Devices like the Verizon Droid XXL Mega Battery 2 HD 4G LTE, which will never be updated, are a direct product of the kind of control carriers enforce on manufacturers. You have to wonder, do manufacturers just lie down and bend over to every demand carriers belt out? Or do they push back, wishing it didn’t have to be this way?
In a recent sit-down with reporters, Motorola Senior Vice President, Product, Rick Osterloh, shared his thoughts on stock Android, carrier customizations, and where Motorola fits into the equation:
Going forward, we’re going to try to be as close to the base as we can be, because we think that’s the right thing for users. We think users also want fast upgrades and upgrades for their phones over the long haul, so we’re going to be focus on that as well. It’s a little bit different than what a lot of OEMs are doing and certainly what Motorola did in the past, but going forward that’s going to be our strategy.Rick OsterlohMotorola
It would seem that, from here on out, Motorola would have no problem being a hardware company. And letting Google do all the software work. The new Motorola thinks stock Android is what’s best for users, a far cry from how they admittedly treated Android in the past.
This is great news. Consumers and enthusiasts alike have been clamoring for stock Android ever since Motorla abandoned it after the release of the original Droid (the only exception being the Xoom). Having their Senior Vice President of Product openly talk about embracing stock Android is a refreshing change. But this is only half the battle.
Osterloh’s exact words were, “We’re going to try to be as close to the base as we can be.” What exactly does that mean? When pressed on the matter, and asked if carriers were the ones pushing for custom devices, it was revealed that Motorola is, “Going to have to do some customization. Our partners sometimes want customizations. Our interest is to make it as close to Android as possible and generally we negotiate somewhere in the middle.”
To say that, if it was up to Motorola they’d be shipping all Nexus devices, but Verizon pushes them into customizing Android, may be over simplifying the situation. But that’s the gist of it. Manufacturers like Samsung and HTC genuinely believe their changes to Android are for the better. It’s what sets them apart from the crowd. Motorola is heading in the opposite direction, but like a dog on a chain, can only run so far.
Without the advertising and special treatment Verizon gives Droid phones, Motorola would be at a huge disadvantage. Things can always change though. We’ve yet to see how strong the firewall between Motorola and Google really is. It’s going to be another year until Google’s Motorola starts releasing devices. It takes a long time to develop phones, so any devices you see now or for the next couple quarters were most likely designed before CEO Dennis Woodside, formerly of Google, took the reigns.
As discouraging as Motorola’s comments on still customizing for carriers are, the fact that they’re changing at all is a good sign that Google is rubbing off on them. We’re certainly excited to see where Motorola is headed in the future.