It's no real secret that Motorola isn't exactly happy with Android as of late. They've faced somewhat poor sales and have struggled to make another knockout device since the OG Droid or Droid X. Sadly for Motorola (all manufacturers, really), sales are only half the battle. Last week, Moto expressed their disappointment in the number of returns their devices have been getting as of late. That is not all, however. They went as far as to blame the openness of Android Market and the poorly-made (or poorly-optimized) apps for 70 percent of the returns.
Six to twelve months ago, blaming returns on the quality of the applications may have worked. And I'll admit, the quality of most of the applications don't quite live up to the standards that applications in Apple's App Store have created. That said, there are a ton of Android applications out there that look great and function remarkably well. There are definitely some real shiners in Android Market, but with somewhere north of 200,000 applications those tend to sink into the depths of the Market.
For one, we haven't heard if any dissatisfaction from any other Android manufacturers. From what I can tell, Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Dell, and the slew of other manufacturers seem pretty content with Android sales and have had little trouble with a high number of returns. Are those customers not downloading the same applications?
Of course, Motorola could be the only one paying attention to the alleged power and battery hungry apps that fill Android Market. But the more reasonable answer is that Motorola is ignoring one key ingredient: MOTOBLUR. They've put a lot of time and effort into creating and trying to differentiate BLUR from the other custom interfaces, and it has worked ... negatively. I hate to be so hard on Moto, because they make some very nice devices with extremely nice hardware. But software just isn't their bag.
The wails of those stuck using BLUR can be heard far and wide on the web. The comments on an article I wrote last night about Motorola making a Nexus device should serve as a testament to the displeasure surrounding MOTOBLUR. If Motorola were to make a Nexus phone, Google would have complete control over the software. Just the simple thought of this excited several readers and sparked quite a bit of interest, and rightly so.
Also worth noting is HTC's latest maneuver. Not long ago, HTC announced they would no longer be locking down the bootloaders of their devices. Unsurprisingly met with a lot of excitement from the Android crew, it left myself and a slew of others questioning who would be next to fall in line. Seeing as Motorola has gone the extra mile to lock and encrypt their bootloaders, the possibility of them making a similar promise is pretty small. This could easily have an effect on returns: people buying a phone expecting to root it and run a custom ROM on it, only to find it is much easier said than done on a locked down Moto device.
Whatever the real reason may be behind the return of Motorola devices, I have a hard time accepting the fact that applications are to blame for 70 percent. What say you? Are the apps to blame? Or is it Motorola's own fault with BLUR and locking down their phones like Fort Knox?