Mobile

Is Motorola gearing up to abandon Android for its own OS?

It may sound crazy, but there’s reason to believe that Motorola isn’t content to rely entirely on Android for its mobile future.

Motorola Mobility has been gathering developers from Apple and Adobe has been gathering developers from Apple and Adobe in an effort to build its own web-based mobile OS, a source tells InformationWeeek. (Motorola recently split itself into two separate companies; Motorola Mobility is the company handling consumer devices.)

If true, and it seems very likely that it is, Motorola could be preparing for a future where it gives up on Android entirely. Alternatively, (and this is my own speculation) the new OS could serve as companion software to Android that would help Motorola differentiate its smartphones and tablets from the seemingly endless supply of Android competitors.

Motorola didn’t deny the existence of the OS project when asked by InformationWeek. Deutsche Bank analyst Jonathan Goldberg said that he was aware of the project, and that it may just be a case of Motorola not putting all of its eggs in one basket. As for how serious Motorola is about pursuing the new OS, Goldberg said the situation was fuzzy. “They don’t want to give Wall Street and developers the impression that they’re going back to the Motorola of old where they’re working on 50 million operating systems at once,” he said. “They want to be financially disciplined about this.”

Former Apple and Adobe employees that have recently joined Motorola Mobility include Gilles Drieu as VP of software engineering, Sean Kranzberg as director of engineering, and Benoit Merchant, also as director of engineering. With this talent, it’s not hard to fathom that Motorola is planning a mobile OS of its own.

Then again, we may be jumping the gun here. Motorola has never been a strong software company, especially compared to competitors like HTC, which has been revising its “Sense UI” software for years. So perhaps this dream team of developers may also be working on software that will work within, or run alongside, Android. After it lost the mantle of top Android manufacturer last year to Samsung, Motorola will certainly be looking for ways to reclaim that title.

Update: Motorola has issued a response to the news: “Motorola Mobility remains committed the Android operating system. We have hired employees with HTML skills to enable the best browsing experience to consumers and our strategic focus on the Android platform has not changed.”

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