Appolicious powers Verizon Educational Tools

Motorola reportedly working on Android alternative OS

by Phil Hornshaw

Motorola’s devices all run on Google’s Android right now, but that could be changing in the future. Reports say Motorola Mobility (MMI) is working on a web-based mobile operating system, and that it could be an alternative to Android.

According to a story in InformationWeek, Motorola has hired engineers from Apple (AAPL) and Adobe (ADBE) to lead in the creation of the new operating system, which will help the company to take potential control of the fate of its business out of the hands of Google (GOOG) and away from dependence on the success of Android.

Here’s a quote from InformationWeek’s story:

Jonathan Goldberg, an analyst with Deutsche Bank in San Francisco, said that he too had heard Motorola was at work on its own operating system. "I know they're working on it," he said in a phone interview. "I think the company recognizes that they need to differentiate and they need options, just in case. Nobody wants to rely on a single supplier."

Doesn’t seem unreasonable, although Motorola hasn’t confirmed or denied the project and told InformationWeek it was committed to Android. That may well be the case, but in the constant battle against Apple and the iPhone, among other shakeups in the mobile sphere, it’s certainly not crazy for Motorola to want to have options.

There’s also the fact that Motorola wants a cut of the tablet market, and with its Xoom, it’s hoping to get some of it. Android Honeycomb 3.0, the OS the Xoom runs on, is great, but reviews say it still suffers from a few issues. Regardless of whether Honeycomb is great or not, in the end, Motorola is beholden to Google to update the OS, support it and improve it. That’s a lot of control to cede to another company on a flagship product, and it doesn’t even take into account the issues Google has with fragmentation and device support that can push customers away from the system.

Even so, Motorola is treading carefully, it seems. There aren’t many details about Motorola’s OS or how far along it is in creating it, if it’s doing so at all. Goldberg told InformationWeek that Motorola doesn’t want to appear financially flaky, as it has in the past, about OS development -- it’s taking building this one system seriously, he says, and so isn’t sharing many details until it’s further in the process.

Just what Motorola comes up with is completely up in the air, although there are a lot of tools already available in the web-based world that can make such an operating system more practical. In the meantime, Motorola is still tight buds with Google, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. But if issues with Android remain -- and Google does seem to be looking to fix many of them and constantly improve the OS -- Motorola might not be the only company considering alternatives.