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The best thing Motorola could do is go fully Android. Discuss.

I paid the 500 quid for the StarTac back in 1999. It was a brilliant, revolutionary handset. My favourite feature was the fact it carried a credit card sized sim card. Not that useful but I liked the concept. Of course the form factor was simply amazing.

I was the coolest kid at University College London as a result. Everyone else was walking about with brick handsets.

Then I upraded to the RAZR. Again… phenomenal.

But let’s be clear, the operating system — or, more to the point, the UI — was appalling.

No problem when all you want to do is sod about with text messages and phone people.

But when you want to run applications — meaningful applications? Dream on.

When you want to DO things with the device you found you were limited to the highly uninventive and seriously shite imagination of the Motorola UI/Operating System designers.

The innovation dried up. Motorola lost their way.

Android could be their salvation.

Motorola are shit hot at device design. Look at the SLVR and any other RZR style product. I’m not always a fan of their buttons but the devices — the build quality… usually pretty decent.

It’s the day to day use that sucks. It’s the fact you can’t easily get your pictures off the handset. It’s the fact you can’t easily run Google Maps, or any number of cool little toys, services, features. Motorola devices — even their top of the range — are a billion miles away from offering the functionality that the market is beginning to get used to from the likes of the iPhone.

Manufacturers shouldn’t ever get involved in the interface and front-end of their handsets. They’ve proved, time and time again, that they’re utterly shit at it. Of course, they’re designing for the lowest common denominator — for Joe Plumber. Joe Plumber doesn’t need a Starmap application. He doesn’t need a TV Guide. He doesn’t a restaurant rating system or a dedicated Facebook app on the handset. In fact he just needs to call and text.

The manufacturer does their best at fitting out the handset with a few features that they reckon most folk will want.

But that’s it.

When the manufacturer can take a step back and focus on device features rather than the UI layer, that’s when the fun begins.

Can you imagine a range of 15 Motorola devices — all with different form factors, flip, candybar, qwerty — and all running Android?

NOW you’re talking. Shortly you’ll be able to take your device profile across every handset automatically. Someone will build that functionality for Android. And all of a sudden my aim of being device independent could be realised.

If I’m wearing a suit, I want a RAZR style lightweight handset — that I can still do all the Android-stuff on (email, IM, calendar, applications and so on). Going out with friends, I might swap to a Moto Candybar with an 8megapixel camera so I can QIK the whole evening. The next morning I might swap to a QWERTY Q9 style handset because I’m taking a long train journey and I want to do a ton of email and a lot of IMing.

Go for it Moto. Take Android to heart and a hundred thousand mobile developers will immediately start setting about innovating and, in short order, convincing the planet to turn Moto.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

14 replies on “The best thing Motorola could do is go fully Android. Discuss.”

I agree.. but there is always going to be a demand for the lowest common denominator phone. The RAZR-ites will live on for a very long time. We are mobile geeks, we like cool features that Android and Symbian give us. But, there is still a market who don't really give a rats arse so long as their handset 'makes calls and recieves/sends texts'. Some people recoil in horror when I tell them I use my phone for e-mails, the internet, GPS, photographs etc.. they just like a mobile to perform those two simple tasks. Why? Fuck knows!

K

Motorola to be fair to them have done some decent things with Linux particularly the Ming handset for chinese users. Also the startac and ilk have had a fair bit of reliabilty problems with the flip hinge

MOTO is too far behind! Their only chance is if they get some great designers and software gurus because their phones lack design. They should concentrate on the new open Symbian foundation Nokia is about to release. At least they will have a chance with a mature OS.

I agree re: Twitter – it may not have the longevity to go truly mainstream but 5 years ago people said their mum wouldn't use SMS…. “typing words on a phone keyboard… it's too slow and fiddly”.

Mobile web and e-mail will trickle down. In some geographies you'd be hard pushed to argue it hasn't already…

Ben, I agree that innovation needs to happen and that the new stuff will
eventually trickle down (although not to my mum!). My point is that at the
moment it seems as if operators are ignoring the opportunities they have
with the mainstream. Instead of waiting for them to catch up with the new
innovation they could introduce apps that bridge the gap – new stuff, using
technologies that the mass market is already comfortable with …

2008/10/30 Disqus <>

Ben, I agree that innovation needs to happen and that the new stuff will
eventually trickle down (although not to my mum!). My point is that at the
moment it seems as if operators are ignoring the opportunities they have
with the mainstream. Instead of waiting for them to catch up with the new
innovation they could introduce apps that bridge the gap – new stuff, using
technologies that the mass market is already comfortable with …

2008/10/30 Disqus <>

MOTO is too far behind! Their only chance is if they get some great designers and software gurus because their phones lack design. They should concentrate on the new open Symbian foundation Nokia is about to release. At least they will have a chance with a mature OS.

I agree re: Twitter – it may not have the longevity to go truly mainstream but 5 years ago people said their mum wouldn't use SMS…. “typing words on a phone keyboard… it's too slow and fiddly”.

Mobile web and e-mail will trickle down. In some geographies you'd be hard pushed to argue it hasn't already…

Ben, I agree that innovation needs to happen and that the new stuff will
eventually trickle down (although not to my mum!). My point is that at the
moment it seems as if operators are ignoring the opportunities they have
with the mainstream. Instead of waiting for them to catch up with the new
innovation they could introduce apps that bridge the gap – new stuff, using
technologies that the mass market is already comfortable with …

2008/10/30 Disqus <>

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