Motorola: we need a diverse portfolio

If you haven’t noticed, we are finding ourselves within a storm. It’s a mobile Operating System maelstrom, and we are all the victims of its ferocity. We’re watching as one OS appears after another, swept out of the mud from the gale-force winds rousing them from the depths of developers and manufacturers imaginations. We are inundated with mobile features starkly similar to the mobile features of another platform entirely, yet told that one is better than the other. And we believe them. We have our favorites, usually for a plethora of reasons we are eager to preach to dissenters of our chosen wares, and the same can be said about the opposition. And yet, while consumers are free to choose one platform as their daily bedfellow, manufacturers are not. They must keep their arms spread widely, happy to invite any and all takers to match their hardware. As someone has said before, the body cannot live without the soul. Hardware cannot live without the software.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha spoke with the Wall Street Journal about Motorola splitting into two, and what he feels the future of “his side” of the company should be. Most notably, is Jha saying that if Motorola had more money, he would use the extra funds to invest in developing their own operating platform. Jha is no fool, and he sees that these Operating Systems, designed and built by companies personally invested in their success, are the rule, and not the exception anymore. This isn’t a new practice, it’s just come to the fore as of recently because of all the recent additions, or upgrades. Palm’s old OS became something new, useful, and shiny with webOS. Google’s been pumping out updates for their Android OS so fast that consumers can barely keep track. And, let’s not forget Microsoft’s revitalization coming this holiday season as Windows Phone 7 Series.

So why has Jha, and Motorola because of it, been cast in this light of not appreciating Google/Android? Or, as some of the other blogs would suggest, go as far as to say that they no longer love Android? Who knows. There’s no doubt that Motorola’s future was very much in question until the release of the Droid for Verizon. Even if the CLIQ, with their fancy MotoBLUR, had come out before, it wasn’t enough. With Verizon’s mighty advertisement hammer, and the fact that the Droid was the first (and only, at the time) device running the new-fangled Anroid 2.0, it was destined to be a winner. And it has been. Motorola is back in the game, so to speak, and now they’re looking at their options.

Jha told the WSJ that, if they had more money for R&D, he’d be developing an operating platform. I don’t see this as Jha counting out any other option, especially not Android. One, he’s openly admitting that Motorola doesn’t have the funds to do anything of this nature. And second, he’s not saying that they’d stop using other Operating Systems. He’s not saying that Android won’t be seen on any other Motorola handset from this point on. And, he’s certainly not moving away from the little green ‘droid. He’s simply stating that if his company had the money to do it, he’d jump on board the OS-creating train.

Motorola went on the record awhile back, stating that they would no longer be producing Windows Mobile handsets. Why? Because, in essence, they didn’t think Windows Mobile 6.5 was worth it, and they believed that (as it was known at the time) Windows Mobile 7 wasn’t coming fast enough. So, the company made the decision to focus on Android, and that decision turned out to be a winner. And now that Windows Phone 7 has been announced, shown off, and drooled over by (almost) everyone, Motorola wants to make it clear that they’re willing to make handsets for the Redmond, Washington-based company. They never said they were done with the company altogether. They just wanted better software, and now that they have it, (in speculation) they’re willing to adopt the platform again.

Motorola’s going to keep producing Android phones. And, believe it or not, they’re probably going to dive into other platforms (like Windows Phone 7) in the future. Motorola does need diversity in their portfolio. They’re a company that makes hardware, and they need to focus on that. If they can create attractive, unique, and powerful handsets in the future, then it won’t matter what OS is under the hood (at least not to those who haven’t chosen their favorites yet). Motorola has at least eight months to keep creating Android-based handsets before Windows Phone 7 even becomes a reality in the market, and it doesn’t look like the company has any plans to stop any time soon.