Motorola CEO: Carriers Want Android Differentiation
U.S wireless network operators support customized Android user interfaces because that's what leads to device sales, said CEO Sanjay Jha at CES.
There's a fervor about this idea that borders on the religious. Those who seek the pure, unadulterated version of Android pick the Nexus-branded smartphones for this reason.
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Network operators, however, don't really want to sell stock Android smartphones and apparently don't give a whit about all this purity nonsense.
Speaking to the Verge at CES, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha claims that Motorola can't make money selling stock Android phones.
[ Why are new Android smartphones running an old operating system? See Android 4.0 A No-Show At CES. ]
"Verizon and AT&T don't want seven stock [Ice Cream Sandwich] devices on their shelves," he said. "The vast majority of the changes we make to the OS are to meet the requirements that carriers have."
In other words, the network operators are fine with the idea of allowing handset makers to tweak their Android user experience so that it stands apart from all the other Android handsets sitting on their store shelves.
Consider what Motorola has done. Motorola has never shipped a "stock" Android device. Every single one of its Android smartphones has included Motorola and carrier-specific customizations, such as its Motoblur user interface skin. Same goes for HTC. Though HTC shipped some stock Android phones in the early days, the bulk of its Android smartphones come with its Sense user interface taking control. The same applies to Samsung, which ships the bulk of its Android devices with its TouchWiz user interface on board.
Each of these three user interface skins has pluses and minuses. They prioritize certain aspects of the usability, while downplaying others. They also make it easier for the hardware maker and network operator to push branded services on which they want to capitalize. The idea makes sense. After all, how can the retail sales staff pitch three different smartphones to potential customers if they all have identical software on board? It makes the sales reps' jobs harder.
The bottom line here is that stock Android devices will continue to be a relatively rare thing. The Nexus handsets will showcase each new Android platform in leading-edge hardware. Nearly every other Android smartphone, however, will be "differentiated."
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