Motorola Redux

Okay, so now that I've calmed down a bit from the announcement the other day from Motorola, I have to say that I like the plan. It was a bit of surprise to me (though not to others it seems) that Moto was pulling out of Symbian. I liked the idea of a united front against the Redmond Borg, so I was quite disappointed and somewhat confused by Moto's actions.

Okay, bygones. So let's take the announcement at face value. Motorola is going to concentrate on Linux phones from now on running Java for the application layer. Well, honestly, that's fucking cool. How can I say *anything* bad about that at all? Being a server-side Java web developer, I'm already familiar with the power and flexibility that Linux + Java brings you, and it only makes sense that this would extend to handhelds as well.

Now, this isn't saying that suddenly I don't support Symbian, and rah-rah Moto/Linux. But what I am saying is that if Motorola really, truly, honestly, and actually goes through with this plan, I can't fault them for it. If I was running my own cellphone manufacturer I'd pick this plan as well. More control over the underlying OS, yet with tons of support by the OSS community and a simpler development environment with a language already used by 3+ million current Java developers. That's a kick-ass plan.

There's still questions in my mind, though. First, Moto, has problems choosing a plan and sticking with it, honestly. They've announced phones with Palm, then with Symbian, then with Microsoft, and now with Linux. It will be interesting to see if they can actually stick with this platform from now on.

Secondly, the Linux they'll be installing will most likely not be something that you can just re-flash and do what you want with. Mobile phones are not PDAs. Unlike the Sharp Zaurus which uses a pretty generic version of Linux on top of pretty generic hardware, Moto's phones will be much more sophisticated. Maybe I'm wrong, but I truly doubt that there will be much low-level access to the OS itself on these phones.

Thirdly, I don't know what Moto's plans are for the U.S. and European markets. From what I gather, Moto like Linux because China likes Linux. Does that mean that they're going to keep the Linux phones in Asia and launch other types of smartphones in the west? I don't know... but there's *lots* of phones in Asia that we don't get here in Europe or in the U.S., this could be another one of them.

Anyways, the net result is the same in my opinion if Moto uses Linux and not Windows Mobile. That's the key. Keeping Microsoft from getting a foothold to give developers time enough to provide all the bells and whistles that they need to for integration with MS products like Outlook, etc. Though, I can easily see Moto deciding that in the U.S. market, Microsoft is the best option and having them launch a bunch of Windows Mobile 2003 Smartphones into the market. Now that they're not a Symbian investor, their hands aren't tied like they were before. Good, I guess, for Moto. Bad for the rest of us.

Let's see what happens.


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