Android Thoughts: Motorola Needs To GTFO of The Android Ecosystem

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Motorola Needs To GTFO of The Android Ecosystem

Posted by Jon Westfall in "Android Talk" @ 07:00 AM

That's right, I said it, Motorola needs to get the frack out of the Android Ecosystem. Adding another piece of fuel to the fire, Xavier Lanier over at Gotta Be Mobile discusses at length why he's returning his Xoom. I'd love to see us take it a step further, and return Motorola to their Razr glory days. Here's 3 reasons why.

1. Motorola doesn't respect users.

So for many of us, we hadn't heard the term eFuse until it was used in conjunction with Motorola's name. The technology by Texas Instruments, if you don't know, basically can mean (at the worst) a power user who knowingly tries to hack their phone will brick it, voiding their warranty and losing hundreds of dollars all because someone doesn't like it's children to be tinkered with by their legal owners. While TI developed it, and it's debatable just how much Moto planned to use it, it's still a fact that it sent a strong message to the enthusiast community, namely, don't mess with this stuff! And even if you're not a hardcore ROM-slinging hacker, who wants to use an interface that has been described as "ugly, scattershot, and confusing. It feels almost malicious." It's clear that Moto passes off subpar user experience as acceptable given the right hardware stats. I hate to tell them though - users are smart (in some case, smarter than your designers), and if we want to mod the thing we should be able to. To not allow this shows a fundamental disrespect for your user's opinions on how they want to use their device. And hey, we might actually make it more useful as we mod it!

2. Motorola introduces products too late, or too early.

The Xoom is a classic case of Motorola rushing out the door with a product that's half done. You have to send it back to get a 4G update, the microSD card slot is inoperable at ship, and flash is nowhere to be seen. This isn't the first time Motorola has done this though - remember the Cliq? And what Engadget had to say about it?

"In the bigger picture, though, we'd keep our wallets in our pockets for the time being -- the CLIQ looks and feels like a testbed, not quite ready for primetime but a genuinely heartening sign that Moto's still got a pulse."

And while the Droid was favorably reviewed, the Droid 2 was mostly a boring repeat that paled in comparison to the Droid X or Droid Incredible. And while the Droid X was arguably a sweet phone, reviews were largely mixed with Gizmodo calling the interface "not-so-fresh". Motorola is hit or miss at best, early or late, and perplexing in their decisions, especially when it comes to what users can and can't do with a phone they bought (See point 1).

3. Motorola has no backbone with carriers and/or is clueless.

This one is tricky to pin down, but I think the best example is the Xoom's proposed crippled WiFi. Basically until just a few days ago, it was announced that you needed to activate the device one time with Verizon to be able to connect it to the outside world. Want to just use the WiFi at home, never going to use Verizon's 3G/4G? Well that will still be $35 for activation and 1 month's data plan. Big V knows what's best for you - you need to use their network, and they'll force you into it! This is either Motorola bowing to Verizon's demands, or Motorola being so clueless that they feel users won't find this egregious. If you want everyone to use Verizon's service for 1 month so they can "try it and see if they like it", then build it into the price of the device and give me 1 month "free" as a trial. That would be fine, however it would add around $50-$75 onto a device that's already way too expensive. You're not the only game in town Motorola, you need to fight this to win it, not to just put out a mediocre device that users will be disappointed by. Thankfully they seem to have decided against this money grubbing tactic at the last minute and reversed course.

So there you have it, 3 really quick reasons why Motorola should just pack up their bags and go home. If they don't want to do that, I suggest they change their minds on a few things and get their heads "in the game". Otherwise, I shall not be wasting any more of my editorial time on their shoddy products (My other editors who are more partial to them may though!).

Jon Westfall is the Executive Editor of Android Thoughts, which means he can write whatever he wants short of libel. And he doesn't like Motorola products too much since about 2006. He might give them a second chance if they get this whole Xoom thing straightened out though.


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