By Seth Weintraub
May 29, 2010

Motorola has been backed into a corner on Android but might just flourish there.

“Right now, I get what I need from Android,” said Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha in a statement to the Wall St. Journal.

He’d better get that from Android because there aren’t a lot of other options out there.  As feature phones commoditize and fade and smartphones become mainstream, Motorola and other mobile phone manufacturers are running out of options.

Companies like RIM (RIMM), Apple (AAPL) and HP/Palm (HP) all make their own OS so they don’t have any decisions to make (Palm did use Windows for a time when webOS was being built).  Nokia, for the most part falls into this group with Symbian though it play around with a Maemo Linux distribution on some products.

The rest of the big mobile phone hardware manufacturers: Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony Ericsson and Motorola(MOT) must pick between a dwindling SymbianOS that has a new competitor-owner in Nokia, a floundering Windows Mobile that is basically dead in the water until the end of the year and Android, which is flourishing like never before.

There is always the option of building your own brand of Linux but Android has most of the advantages of this and much more.

Doesn’t seem like much of a choice, does it?  Motorola’s last attempt at a mass market smartphone before the Droid was the Q running Windows Mobile on Verizon(VZ).  Even priced at $99, it was a flop.

There are upsides and downsides to Android for hardware manufacturers.  One obvious upside is that it is free and open source.  Hardware companies can also add their own software (with differing results) like Motorola’s Blur or HTC’s Sense to differentiate their products.

But they can’t differentiate too much.  Manufacturers still rely on Google to turn out upgrades at which time, hardware makers can ready their software for the upgrade.

One of the advantages of HTC’s Nexus One was that it was free of aftermarket upgrades like HTC’s sense so it was much quicker and easier to upgrade to Froyo.

Overall however, Motorola has done well on Android with its Droid handset outselling any other Motorola handset since the RAZR.  It has another two handsets coming soon to Verizon.  One of these is rumored to be the Shadow.

So Motorola’s ‘choice’ to go with Android?  A no brainer.

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