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Device operating systems

Android: More Than One Way to Skin an OS?

12:00 AM -- Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Motorola Mobility LLC acquisition is all about the hardware, but it will have a big effect on mobile software as well. (See Google Buying Moto Mobility for $12.5B .)

For Moto, it will mean the death of its personalized user interface skin, MotoBlur (for real this time), a fact that most people seemed more than okay with. But for the rest of the handset makers, it means customized, stand-out UIs and software will become all the more important.

Android's other hardware makers now have a decision to make, Gartner Inc. analyst Michael Gartenberg says. They can build stock Windows Phone 7 devices and adhere to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s more stringent customization rules. Or they can build stock Android devices that likely won't perform as well as Moto's tightly integrated Android devices. Or, finally, they can continue to build for the Android OS, but work hard to customize and differentiate it. (See What Google-Moto Means for Microsoft and Google Plays Favorites With Moto Buy.)

Moto phones will likely all run native Google experiences like Books, Music, apps and rental services, while its other partners won't have the same obligation. Instead, they can shop around for third-party services and invest R&D in making their software feel different -- and hopefully better too.

High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) seems to have done the best job at this so far with its Sense UI. And, it continues to add to its software power with graphics and music acquisitions, and a focus on simplicity and entertainment. (See HTC Feels the Beats for $300M , HTC Buy Shores Up Patent Defenses and HTC Knocks Some Sense Into Developers.)

Other handset makers would be wise to follow HTC's lead. It may not help Android's fragmentation problem, but Google has forced their hands here. Because even if Android does remain as open as it promises, it will be hard to best what Moto will be able to achieve with Google as its owner.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:55:59 PM
re: Android: More Than One Way to Skin an OS?

Samsung definitely appears to get this: http://tinyurl.com/3zsjrm8

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