Motorola happy with Android, promises smoother upgrades

Motorola Droid 2

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a Motorola executive has indicated that while Motorola didn’t start off intending to built its entire mobile product line around Android, the company is satisfied with the way things have worked out, and promises that Android upgrades will be smoother for its customers going forward.

Speaking with IDG News, Motorola’s corporate VP of software and services product management Christy Wyatt indicated the company is changing its process for upgrading Android phones, and building the upgrade process on its own Motoblur software. Wyatt described Motorola’s management of Android upgrades to date as a humbling experience, but noted that the company often has to manage multiple customizations for different handsets in different regions even within a single country—and if an update needs to go to 40 countries, that’s several hundred upgrade scenarios that have to be independently tested and verified against a varying field of requirements and regulatory frameworks. Wyatt indicated that Motorola believes it will do a better job rolling out updates to Android 3.0 “Gingerbread” than it did for Android’s “Froyo” and “Eclair” versions.

A recent survey of Android 2.2 updates available for mobile devices painted a fairly bleak picture, with Motorola making upgrades available only for a small percentage of its Android handsets in the U.S. market by the end of 2010. The company has also given up on upgrading Android for some handsets, like its Cliq XT. However, Motorola’a Android upgrade performance was beaten only by HTC: the rest of the market lagged even further behind.

Although as of late 2010 Motorola and Microsoft were still considering working on Windows Phone 7 devices—despite a series of patent infringement suits looming between the companies—Wyatt indicated that Motorola is currently comfortable placing all its chips in the Android camp. The company wouldn’t rule out embracing other platforms in the future, but Wyatt noted delays getting Windows Phone 7 out the door led the company to pursue Android exclusively in order to more aggressively get into the modern smartphone market. And, of course, Microsoft has now entered into a broad pact with Nokia regarding Windows Phone 7, which may leave other OEMs like Samsung, LG, Sharp, and HTC wondering where they now stand in Microsoft’s ecosystem.

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