Motorola Blames Phone Problems On Android Apps

CEO Sanjay Jha said that performance issues with Motorola's Android handsets are caused by crummy third-party applications found in the Android Market.
Google is in the middle of cleaning out the Android Market. During the past week, it has removed dozens of malicious applications that attempt to take advantage of users' proclivity to ignore permissions and other warning signs and install whatever looks good to them. Some of the apps are truly dangerous, while others are simply not well written.

The reason these applications made it into the Android Market in the first place? The open nature of the Market. Anyone can upload an application to the Market. It shouldn't be a surprise that ne'er-do-wells would use the Market for nefarious purposes. It also shouldn't be a surprise that some people simply don't know how to properly test their applications for performance-related issues.

It is this very openness that has Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha seeing a bit of red. During a recent webcast, he indicated that 70% of all the Motorola Android products returned are sent back due to performance issues caused by third-party applications.

"For power consumption and CPU use, those apps are not tested. We're beginning to understand the impact that has," Jha said.

He speaks the truth. I've seen the battery life of my Motorola Droid X nosedive after installing power-hungry apps. In the end, I typically sacrifice the app and delete it so that the overall performance of my device is not permanently kneecapped.

Jha noted, however, that the company is working on a solution using its Motoblur software. Motoblur, which was initially a social networking application, is now being used to monitor how applications use a given handset's system resources, such as power management. Motorola hopes to put this information to good use.

"We are getting to the place that we should be able to warn you," Jha said.

It's great to hear that Motorola is taking a more pro-active role to protect its customers--and its bottom line--but shouldn't this be Google's responsibility? After all, when there are problems in the market, it is Google that takes action and removes the offending applications.

While some may not agree with Apple's more hands-on approach to how apps are approved and added to the iPhone App Store, a little bit of testing and standards setting wouldn't hurt the Android Market. Some of the most important aspects to test might include power management, permissions that affect services that could cost the customer money, and how customer information is shared with third-party companies, for starters.

Of course, this is a much more important issue if your business is using Android handsets. The need to keep mobile professionals up and running when out in field is one issue, but even more important is the security of your enterprise data.

Will Google step in, or will it leave its customers open to malicious and performance-robbing applications? What say ye, Google?

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