Motorola is reportedly looking to beef up its Android development team, increasing its size from 50 to 350 people in hopes of getting in on the latest Google buzz. Motorola couldn't immediately be reached for comment, but reports of insider leaks say the handset maker is working with a recruiter to find developers for Google's open-source mobile operating system.
Motorola is one of the founding members of the Open Handset Alliance, which has nearly three dozen technology, wireless and handset makers working together to push the Linux-based Android platform. However, Motorola also has its own Java-Linux initiative. If the news reports are true, hiring hundreds of Android developers could mark a dramatic shift in the struggling company's strategy.
Cashing in on the Buzz
There is speculation among analysts as to whether a push toward Android will save Motorola. Michael Gartenberg, vice president of mobile strategy for Jupitermedia, can't answer that question. However, he said, it seems clear that Android is the only mobile Linux initiative that matters right now.
"When a company like Motorola says that it is doubling down its efforts to get into Android, we see that it gets plenty of media coverage. What I suspect is there was a lot of strong Android buzz last week. It has not escaped Motorola's notice, and clearly none of it was going in their direction," Gartenberg said. "One has to wonder with the timing how much of this was coordinated by Motorola in terms of getting the information out there."
Motorola and other handset makers witnessed last week's debut of T-Mobile's HTC model, dubbed the G1, and the week of media coverage it received. Analysts are certain other mobile-industry players will move quickly to tap into the buzz. But it might not help Motorola in the long run.
Motorola still faces major issues that go beyond a technology foundation, according to Gartenberg. "It's a matter of coming up with the right devices, getting those devices to the market with the right carrier partnerships, and attempting to redefine cool the way they have in the past with products like the Razr," he said. "Motorola has been unable to do that in recent years."
Based on the reception Android received last week, it's clear the platform represents a new opportunity in the marketplace. But for Motorola it means shifting strategies away from Windows Mobile and its own Java-Linux strategy, and apparently that means hiring a slew of Android developers. The question is, can Motorola execute?
"The technology platform was never the issue with Motorola. The issue was the execution behind the platform. Building the devices and getting them to market in a timely fashion so they were still relevant and interesting to the market, and getting the right partnerships with the carriers," Gartenberg said. "Those were always the issues and the questions. That's going to be the challenge Motorola is going to have to overcome."