Motorola's CEO blamed the open Android app store for performance issues on some phones.
Of all the Motorola Android devices that are returned, 70% come back because applications affect performance, Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, said during a webcast presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology conference on Thursday.
Unlike most other mobile app stores, the Android Market is totally open, meaning anyone can upload an application to the store. While Google removes applications that are found to be malicious, there is no mechanism for ensuring that applications perform efficiently.
"For power consumption and CPU use, those apps are not tested. We're beginning to understand the impact that has," Jha said.
One way that Motorola is able to better understand and in the future control the impact applications have on performance is through its Motoblur application. Launched initially as a social-networking hub on most Motorola phones, Motoblur now serves a broader purpose, he said.
Motoblur collects information about customer use of applications and how that use relates to functions like power consumption. With that data, Motorola learns which applications drain power. "We are getting to the place that we should be able to warn you," Jha said. He envisions presenting a notice to users when they launch an application alerting them that using the application will drain 35% of the phone's power, for example, he said. The user can then decide to continue or conserve power.
Adding capabilities to Motoblur is one way that Motorola can try to set itself apart in an increasingly crowded Android market. With Motoblur the company wanted to first build scale, then delight customers and finally see what kind of competitive leverage it can get from the software, he said. Currently, about 10 million people have Motorblur on their phones. "It's beginning to get interesting," he said.
Offering unique and valuable services is becoming increasingly important among Android vendors. When Motorola first bet on Android, it was a risky decision that differentiated the company, he said. "Of course now there are a number of players so Android is not a differentiator," he said.
It's still a good bet, though, because he believes Android is evolving and innovating faster than any other platform. "The negative is all of us are competing extremely hard to get more market share and attention," he said. "So those are the trade-offs there."
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