Motorola Revs Up Devs at Android Conference

A small conference room at the San Mateo Marriott Hotel in San Mateo, Calif., was packed to overflowing for the keynote speech Tuesday from Christy Wyatt, a Motorola corporate vice president, at AnDevCon 2011.

About 300 people squeezed into the room, forcing hotel staff to bring in some chairs and some attendees to liberate seating from nearby rooms.

“I don’t think they expected to have so many people,” attendee Lance Taschner, vice president of software engineering at Wipit, told LinuxInsider.

Wyatt spoke about the opportunities for Android appdevs and Motorola’s plans moving forward.

The opportunity to monetize around Android will be “far greater than anything you’ll see around any other platform,” she said.

“We still have some work to do before we can match another platform,” Wyatt added, likely referring to Apple.

The decision to build Android app markets by other companies that “are fantastic at building distribution systems” is good for Android appdevs, Wyatt contended.

Wyatt also pointed out that Android is gaining mobile market share rapidly and told her audience why Motorola thinks this is so. Among other issues, she also dealt with the question of fragmentation.

Android Pumps Up the Volume

Android became the leading smartphone platform in the United States in January, comScore reported.

It took 31.2 percent market share, pushing RIM’s BlackBerry, which had 30.4 percent market share, into second place. Apple came in third with 24.7 percent, according to comScore.

“The rate of acceleration has overtaken Apple,” Wyatt said to laughter from the audience. “We knew, going into the end of last year, that it would only be a matter of time before Android became number one in the U.S. because of the growth rate.”

Fuhgeddabout Fragmentation

One of the major concerns about Android is the question of the fragmentation of the operating system.

“This is one of the concerns we hear from developers as well as customers,” she said. “If Android is a core technology, why doesn’t it all look and behave the same?”

The issue’s overblown, Wyatt suggested.

“Innovation can’t come from a single source; that’s not the definition of a healthy robust ecosystem,” Wyatt said, in what might be interpreted as a swipe at Apple. Further, it’s the differentiation that provides value to customers, she suggested.

Google’s managing the “difficult business” of balancing differentiation against fragmentation well with the testing and certification programs it puts around Android, Wyatt opined.

Possible Pot O’Gold for Android Appdevs

One area of opportunity for Android app devs is the enterprise market, Wyatt said.

“The reason I find this really exciting, and you should think it’s exciting, is this has been a captive market for some time,” she told her audience.

Motorola’s taking various steps to make Android more attractive as a mobile device platform for the enterprise.

“We’ve strengthened password management and done a lot of work with other device management companies, so if your boss told you you had to get a phone with certain features supported in order to connect to (Microsoft) Exchange, you’d have those features,” Wyatt elaborated.

Many of the features came from partners with whom Motorola is working to make the Android platform overall attractive to enterprise users.

For example, Motorola purchased 3LM (Three Laws Mobility) at the end of last year and has licensed that technology to Sony Ericsson, Sharp, HTC and Pantech, Wyatt said. That will offer IT a choice of Android devices from different vendors, she pointed out.

The consumerization of IT is particularly good for Android appdevs because 34 percent of BlackBerry owners want to get an Android device as a replacement, Wyatt stated.

The Mojo Moto Likes

Another technology Motorola is “very interested in” is the concept of multiple screens, Wyatt said.

“I don’t believe if you want mobile music you have to cable your devices and stream music back and forth, or take it all with you,” Wyatt elaborated. Instead, users should be able to either cache and bring along playlists they want or be able to stream music from a remote device such as a workplace or home computer to their mobile device.

“We believe the mobile device is the center of your digital life,” Wyatt said. “You have stuff in iTunes, on your laptop, on your work PC, and you’re going to buy a tablet — the Xoom, and you need to be able to get at your stuff wherever it is, maintain your rights over that stuff and share it with your friends or your family or at work,” she added.

This doesn’t mean users tether their mobile devices to desktops or laptops, or “all of your content and stuff will go up to the cloud because I’m going to monetize that,” Wyatt said — once again, a possible jab at Cupertino.

The advent of some new technologies will help Motorola realize its vision for the mobile device, Wyatt said. One of these technologies is 4G, and another is mobile commerce, she disclosed.

“Tablets and smartphones will replace laptops and desktops, especially in e-commerce, but that’s not going to happen for maybe another five to 10 years,” Wipit’s Taschner remarked.

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