Motorola has come in for a lot of stick over recent times: some justified, some not. Some of it seemingly because they had a handset which endured well, if inexplicably.
But after several shaky quiet months which even included whispers that they might be going under altogether, Motorola have struck back, opened up, and begun to hold hands with important people. Were they ever really that concerned? Who knows?
Aided by an internal reshuffle, the last few weeks have witnessed a range of announcements showing them to be far from dead and buried, not stuck in the past, eyes wide open.
Wide open to the consumer market through an interesting new open source Android powered device, the Dext, which arguably marks a small departure from the hardware design obsession. At least in that market. Should we get over the fact that the vast majority of handsets will look essentially similar for the foreseeable future?
Over simplistic perhaps, (I’m no fashionista) but how much further can we expect to go without a truly radical departure? It’s what on the inside that counts now, and how easy it is to drive.
And the new handset is promising that, with the open Android platform propping the door open for ideas to collide and merge. This has led to the Dext (or CLIQ, in North America) enjoying clever new “Motoblur” software, which synchronises content from apps and third parties.
An open culture means Motorola also critically appreciate enterprise solutions and mobile software providers, that less glamorous counterpart to sizzling consumer devices, applications and all that shouty hype.
Motorola’s MC9500 rugged mobile computer has been launched in Europe today to predictable fanfare claims that it IS the future: new capabilities such as modular 3.5G WAN, superior performance, state-of-the-art-design, a revolutionary backroom management system, and much MUCH more (reuters link). (Ok, a bit of shouty hype there too then).
But by producing such transparently developed hardware, as well as embracing and partnering independent software vendors, Motorola demonstrate an open and deep commitment to innovative, multi-pronged progression.
Men in fleet vans across Britain who proffer clunky looking smart devices which record your meters, accept your signatures, take your money to cashpoints, track locations and transmit data back in forth: we may pass them by and crinkle our noses at their weirdly shaped, cumbersome looking bricks – but their blocks of technology can pack in much more than ours, and have significantly more value to their employers.
Motorola and a select few other device manufacturers realise this. That’s why they’re steadily creating formal partnerships with the specialist software vendors who create the bespoke programmes which sit on the hardware.
Just as operators have realised the power of the independent app developer in the consumer space, so device makers have become sensitive to those ostensibly tricky to decipher software houses which make unique mobility programs for industry. That’s why Motorola have launched a formal Independent Software Vendor (ISV) programme for the top performing providers.
Your handset makers and your operators want as much software and as many applications as possible. It all means data, GPRS, GPS, 3G, 4G, whichever: which means money.
Collaborating to innovate has never been as much of a necessity, or as transparently prioritised by the big name hitters as it is today. Motorola are back, speading their wings widely to make serious ground across different channels. For successful development and meaningful innovative progress, they just need everybody to hold hands with everybody else.