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Motorola To Ditch Android OS, Revive ARM Partnership?

The Motorola Droid was probably the handset that gave Android its credibility on a global scale; but now, it looks as if Motorola Mobility, could be mulling plans to build an alternative to Google's mobile platform.

Several independent sources have confirmed to Informationweek that the mobile phone company is working on an web-based mobile operating system to as one observer put it have more control on its own destiny.

Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha said last year in the company's Q1 earnings conference call that "Owning your OS is important; provided you have an ecosystem, you have all the services and you have an ability and the scale to execute on keeping that OS at the leading edge".

Android has been hit by a number of concerns lately over fears of fragmentation (with many versions of the platform hampering the roll out of new services), patent issues (Oracle, for example, claims that Android infringes on its IP), product differentiation (it is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with USPs for Android smartphones) and support (Google has picked and chosen which company would receive the latest Android updates; Gingerbread for example was deployed on Samsung first).

Motorola Mobility has already recruited a number of highly qualified web and mobile engineers from rival Apple and Adobe, which provide a number of clues as to what foundation the web-based OS might have. In addition, Jha has given to Motorola the kind of discipline needed to undertake grander projects.

Given that Apple, RIM and HP own their own hardware and software, it will be interesting to see whether Motorola follows them or Samsung (which produces Windows Phone, Bada and Android OS smartphones).

In most likelihood, the operating system would be built on top of Linux, probably using Linaro, after having purchased a Linux Mobile specialist (ed : the name of Azingo has been frequently mentioned with some saying that Motorola had acquired it).

As to the web-based OS moniker mentioned by Informationweek's source, it might be referring to a platform that's natively support the oft-used term of "cloud integration", which in a sense would bring it nearer to Google Chrome OS.

There's a last piece in that puzzle; Motorola Mobility could (and should) take even more ownership of its destiny by reviving its ARM license as it depends at the moment on TI and Nvidia to provide with the SoCs that power its products.

And there is more than enough expertise within the company group for such a move given that the Motorola in its former version, had a strategic licensing agreement with ARM.

At the end of the day, the project, which has yet to be denied by Motorola, is rooted in the long term, one where it will become extremely hard to find compelling unique selling points and maintain a decent profit margin; the fact that G'Five Mobile, ZTE and Huawei have all embraced Android, is, we can confirm, a matter of concern at Motorola.