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Eric Zeman
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Google Not Impressed With Motorola Smartphone Pipeline

Google exec says inherited Motorola product pipeline doesn't deliver the "wow."

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Google has somewhat dashed hopes that its ownership of Motorola would lead to exciting new smartphones and tablets, at least in the short term. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference, Google CFO and senior VP Patrick Pichette said that the company was not enthused with Motorola's existing pipeline when it bought the company last year.

"The case with Motorola is that we've inherited a pipeline," said Pichette, reiterating language that Google has used in the past. "Motorola has a great set of products, but they're not really like 'wow' by Google standards. Dennis Woodside and his team have inherited 18 months of pipeline that we have to drain right now."

His comments are brutally frank. Not only do they throw Motorola's design team under the bus, they insult the choices made by the wireless network operator partners that have agreed to sell Motorola phones.

[ Take a look at some of the newest devices entering the market. See Mobile World Congress 2013: 9 Hot Gadgets. ]

Too bad for Google that has to live up to the preexisting contracts Motorola had with carriers when it finalized its acquisition of the smartphone maker in May 2012. Motorola has long supplied Verizon Wireless with the bulk of its Droid range of Android smartphones. Some of the most recent Droids include the RAZR HD and MAXX HD, both of which went on sale during the final months of 2012. Motorola also offers smartphones to Sprint.

To be fair to Motorola, not all of Google's devices bring the "wow" factor, either. All of the Nexus devices currently on sale, including the Nexus 4 smartphone and Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets, have their own faults. For example, the Nexus 4 doesn't offer LTE 4G, a "must-have" feature for many of today's smartphone shoppers. It also has glass surfaces that are all-too-easily broken. There are surely plenty of quibbles one can make about Google's Chromebooks, too.

More to the point, Pichette didn't really define what gets Google excited about hardware. Is it the technology? The design? The fact that it says "Google" on the back? We simply don't know.

Pichette also didn't make any comments about when the first real Google phone (a smartphone conceived after Google came into ownership of Motorola) will arrive. Based on the timing of Google's acquisition of Motorola, we can expect another six to nine months of unimpressive (at least as far as Google is concerned) handsets from Motorola.

The only consistent rumor concerns the Nexus X superphone, a device that is supposed to offer the best features that current hardware can support in addition to the naked Android operating system.

Perhaps Google will give us a taste of this at its Google I/O Developer Conference, in May.

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2013 | 11:52:20 AM
re: Google Not Impressed With Motorola Smartphone Pipeline
Google should develop a flying machine first and then declare they were not impressed with it. Not the other way.
User Rank: Ninja
3/2/2013 | 4:58:55 PM
re: Google Not Impressed With Motorola Smartphone Pipeline
And that is something they didn't bother to look at before buying Motorola?
User Rank: Apprentice
3/2/2013 | 4:25:25 AM
re: Google Not Impressed With Motorola Smartphone Pipeline
Having owned a number of Motorola devices over the last few years (starting with my original Moto Droid), I can honestly say that what I like about all of these devices isn't the "wow" factor that seems to be all the rage in portable devices, but instead their solid simplicity. It seems this has always been the Motorola way from many years back, so throwing away this heritage would be a sad move in Google's stewardship of the Motorola brand! Now that Google owns the Motorola brand, why not use them to manufacture their Nexus line instead of a 3rd party.

I recently purchased a Motorola Xoom tablet, the first Android 3.0 tablet (and that's how it arrived), installing the available updates to Android 4, and I have been very satisfied with it, even without all the latest and greatest hardware. It is well-built and apparently easy to disassemble and repair too, and it has a reputation for being easily "modded" as well. I should get many years of good service from it, something that might not be possible from other tablets.

In my mind, that's the value in the Motorola brand, not the "wow" factor that everyone else is trying to sell!
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