Motorola exec: Windows Phone was too late, too little

Motorola doesn't expect to start using Windows Phone, an executive said at Mobile World Congress

Motorola appears to have firmly shut the door on the possibility of using Windows Phone software.

"I don't envision us using Microsoft. I would never say never but it's not something we're entertaining now," said Christy Wyatt, corporate vice president of software and services product management for Motorola. She spoke to the press during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"We're the only vendor who is 100 percent Android," she noted.

When Motorola choose to use Android, it initially said it might consider other platforms. "But there were a bunch of things that we believed about Microsoft that ended up not being true, mostly about what functionality it would have in what period of time," she said. When it turned out that Microsoft's delivery of Windows Phone, its revamped mobile OS, would be much later than Motorola expected, the company pursued Android exclusively, she said.

Motorola was also worried about using an OS like Windows Phone that is not open source. "We would like an opportunity to create unique value and we don't feel we could with a closed platform," she said. Going with Windows Phone would create a scenario where the only value Motorola could offer was commoditized hardware, she said.

Motorola doesn't have the same concerns that Nokia does with Android. Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said this week that one of the reasons Nokia decided to use Windows Mobile over Android was that choosing Android would leave essentially a duopoly in the market, between Android and Apple.

But since Android has a range of companies supporting and contributing to it, it creates the innovation that customers want so having two platforms isn't a liability, Wyatt said. "It could be a duopoly on platforms but I'm not sure why having another OS is a good or bad thing," she said.

Wyatt also said that the company has made some changes internally to try to improve the process for updating the software on its Android phones. "The entire upgrade process has humbled us a bit through this past year," she said.

In the first year of delivering Android phones, Motorola approached the update process focused on individual phone models. However, each phone model has customizations for different regions and even in a single country the phones might have features unique to each operator. That meant each update might need to go to 40 countries and then be optimized for specific carriers within many of those countries. "If you aren't thoughtful about how you designed [the upgrade process] in the first place you'll have a hard time designing and pushing out upgrades," she noted.

Motorola has now made internal changes that it hopes will help better manage the upgrade process. It has standardized on using Motoblur, software that it loads onto many of its Android phones, as its upgrade mechanism. That offers Motorola insight into whether the upgrades are happening cleanly and if not Motorola can quickly adapt to improve the quality of the update.

"We were better with Froyo then with Éclair and we'll be even better with Gingerbread," she said, referring to three recent Android updates.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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