FRAMINGHAM, 28 FEBRUARY 2011 - Despite the fact that his company specializes in designing device hardware, Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha thinks the tablet market's future is largely out of his hands.
Speaking today at Morgan Stanley's Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in San Francisco, Jha said that while hardware was obviously an important part of the equation in the tablet market, consumers would ultimately decide which devices they like best based on the operating systems and applications available. So while most new tablets to hit the market may have similar processing power, they won't all have access to same operating systems.
Jha said he felt confident that his company's early embrace of Google's Android mobile operating system would continue to yield dividends for Motorola. In particular he said that the enterprise market had taken a keen interest in Android-based tablets and that Motorola was in negotiations with some enterprises that want to order Android-based tablets by the thousands.
"CIOs like Android," he said. "The ability to add applications and customize your devices is appealing."
Jha also said that he couldn't second-guess the decision of rival mobile-device manufacturer Nokia to embrace Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 as its primary operating system, even though Microsoft's mobile OS is not as widely used as Android or Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS. Jha said that Nokia's decision to adopt Windows Phone 7 couldn't be fully understood unless the public knew more details about negotiations between the two companies. Jha did say, however, that Motorola hoped to take advantage of Nokia's transition period and make headway into some of its biggest markets such as China, Europe and Latin America.
Motorola officially got into the Android-based tablet game last week when its Motorola Xoom became the first commercially available tablet to run on the tablet-centric Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb") operating system. Early reviews of the device praised the strength of Motorola's hardware but said that the Honeycomb version of Android needed significant work. Many early users have experienced frequent application crashes while others have expressed concerns that there isn't yet a robust market for tablet-centric Android applications as there is for Apple's iPad. Other reviewers expressed frustration that there was no Adobe Flash installed on the Xoom, although Adobe has said it expects to have a Flash ready for use on Android tablets within the next few weeks.
Along with rival mobile device manufacturer HTC, Motorola has gained a boost from its early adoption of Android for its new devices. In addition to the Xoom tablet, Motorola has also released several high-profile Android-based smartphones, including the Motorola Droid on Verizon's network and the Motorola ATRIX 4G on AT&T's network.
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