If everyone bets on Android does anyone get an advantage?

Summary:Motorola---along with a bevy of other wireless carriers---has gone gaga for Android, the mobile operating system hatched by Google. For Motorola, a big Android bet boils down to saving the company's handset business.

Motorola---along with a bevy of other wireless carriers---has gone gaga for Android, the mobile operating system hatched by Google. For Motorola, a big Android bet boils down to saving the company's handset business. The nagging question: If everyone---Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony Ericsson and Motorola---go Android happy does anyone really have an advantage?

As Forbes reports, Motorola has been courting Android developers aggressively in hopes that they can differentiate their handsets from the rest of the field. Indeed, one stop at the MotoDev blog tells the tale. You can find information on meetups for developers, scripting tips and a bunch of other developer information.

Simply put, MotoDev is worth a stop and has plenty of this:

The Motorola effort makes a lot of sense. Motorola brings global distribution to the table and is hellbent on fixing its handset business. The company is likely to launch two U.S. Android devices---on EVDO version at Verizon or Sprint---and an HSPA version on T-Mobile and international carriers.

Verizon Wireless has already confirmed that Motorola will be bringing an Android-powered Motorola handset to the market. Meanwhile, J.P. Morgan analyst Ehud A. Gelblum reckons that these Motorola handsets will hit the market in October and be completely scaled up for the holiday rush.

Also see: Verizon, T-Mobile plan Android phones by year's end; boost for Motorola

Gelblum a few weeks ago recapped a meeting with Sanjay Jha, chief of Motorola's mobile unit and co-CEO of the company.

The takeaways from Gelblum from his research note:

"We came away feeling more confident about the company’s ability to produce competitive Android-based smartphone devices well in time for volume shipments for the 2009 holidays.

Jha strongly implied that the timing of the new Android product launches would be well before Thanksgiving and we believe likely as early as October, putting the devices well in time for volume shipments before the holidays.

Jha seemed confident that Motorola’s new Android products would be differentiated from other smartphones and other Android smartphones primarily through a stronger link to social networking and messaging. He also believes Motorola's singular focus on Android was an advantage vs. other vendors planning to launch Android products such as Samsung, LG, and HTC, which also support multiple other operating systems, a point we conceptually agree with but the actual merit of which is only proven in the field once the phones actually launch.

All the new Android phones should be touch and capacitive touch at that.

Although Jha wouldn’t comment on whether the devices would be multitouch, we suspect they likely are. Jha is planning to use ODMs to fill out a full portfolio of products below the Android smartphone tier, especially into Europe where carriers expect vendors to go to market with a complete product offering rather than just a point solution."

It does appear the Motorola has the advantage of Android focus right now. However, that focus doesn't necessarily mean Motorola will have runaway hits in a crowded field. The good news for Motorola: Expectations are low and if Jha can use Android to just create positive profit margins for the handset unit it'll be a victory. All Jha really has to do is resuscitate Motorola's handset business enough to be spun off.

Also see: All Android posts

Topics: Hardware, Mobility, Smartphones


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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