Motorola has been a long-time player in the cell phone world. In fact, they've been in the communications business for over 80 years. More recently though, they've been responsible for the ever-popular RAZR, the original Droid, Droid X, Atrix 4G, and a plethora of other phones and even a tablet. Known for their high quality hardware and several unique designs, Motorola has made quite a name for itself on the Android front.
The word on the street now is that Motorola has been heating up the burner for their own OS. Moto has apparently been on a hiring frenzy, rounding up Web-focused engineers from both Adobe and Apple (I'd like to see how those guys get along in a room together). The source says that Motorola is worried about several issues with Android like fragmentation, product differentiation, and Google supporting its partners (likely speaking of all the relentless legal action Microsoft has been taking against said partners).
The obvious question at hand is: should Motorola make a mobile operating system of their own?
Looking at this rationally, there are two sides to the story. This would mean vertical integration between software and hardware, much like HP and webOS or Apple and iOS. This could yield a more smooth experience and a much shorter turn-around time for firmware updates. They have control over the operating system, hardware, and nearly every aspect of their product.
As we've seen in the past, Motorola isn't exactly keen on the whole open source bag and this would give them the opportunity to lock down their devices and (try to) keep people from tampering with the software. It may not be what the consumer wants – which would inevitably lead to a serious problem – but it would be what they as a company have only been dreaming of. And who knows, maybe they could find a balance between the two that better suits their and our needs.
The benefit of Motorola prospecting in the software realm is that you can never have too much competition, not in the crazy, unpredictable mobile world we live in. There is certainly room for more platforms. But let's be honest, it's already getting pretty crowded. Finding a niche will be a difficult task.
Based on what we've seen from them in terms of software – their MOTOBLUR custom skin for Android – I'm willing to say that very few would be gung-ho about the idea of a Moto-made operating system. Hiring a few engineers and saying, “We want to make our own mobile platform,” isn't going buy them a one-way ticket to the top. It's going to take some serious conviction and a team of the best of the best software engineers money can buy.
There are several mobile platforms already out there that have gained an unbelievable following that have already proven to be tough to compete with. Microsoft's and Palm's attempts were met with mediocre sales and have yet to truly catch on. Nokia's MeeGo project is also still in the works, but has caught many people's eyes.
Let's not forget, this doesn't necessarily mean that Motorola is planning on pulling the plug on their Android endeavors. They have too much time and money invested in Android to end it so abruptly. This is more of a precautionary move. What's the harm in having a Plan B?
Even though their gig is making great hardware, I'd be interested to see what Moto can come up with. Mobile operating systems are all heading down the same general path. I'm ready to see someone stir the kettle a little bit. What say you? Do you think Motorola should make their own mobile platform? Or should they stick to what they're good at?