What Google’s Motorola R&D may be working on…

Posted by – December 22, 2012

The Wall Street Journal has an article out talking about the Google X Phone project and its technical challenges. I think that Google Motorola has a lot of work to do. Here are some of the projects that I expect Google to be investing in at Motorola to move Android forward in terms of R&D hardware spending, how Google may be trying to control and influence worldwide components supply for the next months and years of mobile devices development:

1. Dominate worldwide sub-$100 phone market. Target the sub-$200 Android phone market too. Target all world countries, not just rich countries. This is how Motorola “easily” can get to scale and thus get to control smartphones components supply.

2. Design devices that merge Android with Chrome OS and Google TV. That means re-engineer and re-think Motorola’s Laptop Dock, Desktop Dock, Entertainment Dock, when you dock Android 5 thus switches to Chrome OS or Google TV depending on what you want on the external display.

3. Design flexible phones using rubber-like and leather-like materials. As soon as flexible screen suppliers are ready (not just Samsung’s flexible AMOLED), have designs ready to use the new form factors.

4. E Ink phones, be it like the Motorola Fone released in 2006 with an E Ink display, the new E Ink phones use Android. Can be E Ink only Android phones and Android phones where just the backside is an E Ink display.

5. Integrate DLP pico projector technologies in new phone concepts that project something like a 20″ touch-screen display onto any table. Thus design kick-stands, mirrors, lenses that facilitate that.

6. Google Glass, headmounted computing is going to be the new normal next year. Optimize the Motorola headmounted computer to fit every usage, design it so everyone wants to use them.

7. Wearable computing. Android Bluetooth wrist watches, Bluetooth headsets that merge into clothing for voice calls. Make every user feel like they are James Bond.

8. Mass market White Spaces modems and routers, small and low power enough to be included in every new Android smartphone and tablet. Cheap enough so that every ADSL/Cable/Fiber connection install a White Spaces router to quickly cover the whole world with free wireless broadband for everyone.

9. Mass producing Pixel Qi LCD based smartphones, tablets and laptops, for sunlight readablility and to extend battery life significantly.

10. New $100 ARM Powered Tablets for productivity. New $100 ARM Powered Laptops for productivity. Google and Motorola can take over some of the role of the One Laptop Per Child. These new devices are for the worlds children to use to make the world a better place.

  • Joakim

    I suggest you actually read the WSJ article you linked to, as it directly contradicts your points 1 and 10:

    “The company says it will stop making devices for dozens of countries in order to focus on the biggest markets. Mobile-industry experts said that will have the effect of reducing Motorola’s scale—and thus its leverage when negotiating over price with suppliers.

    Motorola’s Mr. Woodside said ‘scale is important but building great products is even more important.'”

    Android is going to lose and it will lose precisely because of people like you, who do not want to pay anything and have fantasies of how everything will be free. That is not even possible and to the small extent it is, it means ads everywhere, which is a horrible future, much worse than having to pay something. Unfortunately, google has embraced that dystopian vision, which is why it’s in for a big collapse.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    Even the Wall Street Journal don’t always quite know what they are writing about. What they mean by Motorola dropping certain markets is for the current high-end expensive models, the $549 Motorola Razzr Maxx HD and the $449 Motorola M, those were designed and developed before Google acquired Motorola. Obviously that those are not meant to be sold in Brazil, China, Africa, India, Russia, Eastern-Europe etc, of course. But those do not have to have anything to do with Google’s targets with Motorola, which is what Motorola is going to release starting in 2013.

    Here is the relevant quote from Dennis Woodside, Google Motorola CEO:

    “Motorola now has the support of a shareholder in Google that has resources to do big things.” He added that only one billion of the world’s seven billion people use smartphones, calling that “an incredible opportunity.”

    You don’t talk about the 6 Billion people market for Smartphones and then decide to continue making $549 smartphones, nope, you can be sure of that. Motorola has a history of being quite good at selling sub-$50 phones to developing countries. The potential for Motorola to one of those players to dominate in the worldwide sub-$100 and even in the sub-$50 Android smartphone market is EXACTLY GOOD for Motorola and for Google. Google wants to influence how the next Billion people access the Internet. That is not going to happen through designing expensive hardware.

    You should try to understand that more than 50% of Google’s current revenues comes from Android users already. Android has a gigantic influence on Google’s worldwide business. Google is also constantly increasing monetization per Android user. In certain western markets, it wouldn’t surprise me that Google is making over $100 in revenue per Android user per year. That potentially makes of an Android user something much more valuable than a Windows user for Microsoft. Microsoft may get the Windows licence once over the lifetime of the hardware. Google can make $100 per Android user every single year.

    So yes, absolutely, and of course, Google CAN subsidize the cost of the hardware. They can subsidize it more and more as they keep adding new and better ways to monetize the Android ecosystem. We are at the very early stages of the one-click mobile purchases, we are at the very early stages of relevant location based advertising, at the very early stages of useful social networking on mobile. Mobile apps don’t yet even take advantage of 1% of the technological possibilities of mobile.

    During 2013, the $25 Android smartphone is a real possibility. Google can simply task Motorola with designing and selling the best of those, and selling to the massive markets where 6 Billion people don’t yet have access to the Internet, don’t yet have a smartphone.

  • Joakim

    The linked article talks about a high-end X-phone to compete with the iPhone, not the low-end phones that you’re talking about. Admittedly, the exec talking about the 6 billion without a smartphone doesn’t make sense, since they’re not going to buy an iPhone or an X-phone, but that indicates that GooMoto execs don’t know what they want to do. Motorola may have a history of selling sub-$50 feature phones, but there just aren’t smartphones that come that cheap, at least not yet. You’re going to need Cortex A7 or A5 in those budget phones, and those new chips just haven’t shipped much yet.

    I bought the cheapest Android smartphone I could find, $100 off-contract, earlier this year and it’s no fun using Android 2.2 on a 240×320 display, ARMv6 chip clocked at 600 MHz, not even ARMv7. It worked fine for my use, as an overblown feature phone that I could check my mail with and get directions, but it’s not really a smartphone and that’s at $100. Imagine what else you’d have to cut to get below $100 and below $50. It can be done eventually, as Cortex A5 and A7 and better low-end displays ramp up in the next year or two, but I don’t see Motorola or any big brand caring much about that low-margin market.

    I think Google plans to influence that market by giving Android away for free, not by actively selling into it. Although, given how bloated Android is, that low-end is ripe for a more efficient OS to come in and do better. That could be BB10 but unfortunately, RIM seems to be aiming exclusively for the high-end also.

    You should try to understand that as much as you like to make up numbers about how Android is a huge success, it still loses money and likely will be ditched eventually as a result, as I’ve pointed out to you before. It’s estimated that 40% of Google’s mobile revenue will come from iOS devices in 2012 and Google’s numbers show that they got four times as much revenue from iOS as from Android up till the end of 2011, as they only made about $10 per Android user until last year. If anything, that per-user number has probably gone down, as many of the Chinese vendors, the ones driving Android growth, don’t put the Google App suite on their Android devices, because they’re not Google-certified, just like Amazon and their Android fork. All those real numbers I’ve cited make a joke out of your made-up claim that “Google is making over $100 in revenue per Android user per year.” :D

    “Of course, Google CAN subsidize the cost of the hardware,” nobody said they can’t. But as long as they keep losing so much money, they will have to give up eventually, and then Android will collapse. As for “new and better ways to monetize the Android ecosystem,” “one-click mobile purchases” are not here yet and I highly doubt google will be the one to make money off that, considering Android is an open platform and nobody else, either merchants or carriers, will want to just give them that money. “Relevant location based advertising” is a pipe dream that will never take off. “Useful social networking on mobile?” Who cares about that when Facebook can barely make money on the PC version, which is why they’re now trying their latest scheme, paying to send someone a message. “Mobile apps don’t yet even take advantage of 1% of the technological possibilities of mobile.” Perhaps, but it’s highly unlikely that google will be the one to make money off those new possibilities, because they just don’t control the platform in that way.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    $50 Android phones today have ARM Cortex-A9 and dual-sim modem, all integrated, smooth WVGA capacitive touch screen included, 4″ easily. $50. Today.

    During 2013, ergo during the first wave of Google-designed Motorola range of phones, the basic $25 Android phone is going to work perfectly fine. Expect WQVGA 480×320 4″ screen, ARM Cortex-A9 single-core at the minimum, dual-sim included, no problem.

    Google is making $100 per year during 2012 per Android user in the USA and Western Europe. That is pure fact. You are the one making numbers up. If you can’t divide Google’s yearly revenues with Google’s yearly number of users and Android users, then I dunno, I don’t have time to give maths lessons, sorry.

    Google makes $100 per year per user in the USA and Western Europe. Shall I write it again or is there no need?

    So sure Google makes no where near that much per Android user in India, China, Brazil, Russia, Africa, etc. Sure sure. But I’m not either suggesting that Google needs to subsidize the cheap Motorola phones of 2013. What Google can easily do is sell the devices at cost price. No need for hardware profits, not even when selling to the massive emerging markets which are going to be the main growth for smartphones during 2013. Google can easily tell Motorola to sell the industry’s best $25, $50, $100 and $200 smartphones in 2013. Easy. Piece of cake. No hardware profits are required. Google can tell Motorola to sell it all through retail market. In all the supermarkets of the world. On all pre-paid carriers, they can all just buy directly on the open market, no need to cheat with bogus carrier contracts, Google doesn’t profit on those. Especially not in the emerging markets.

    BB10 is a big joke. RIM needs to use Android, like everyone else. Same for Nokia. Any other strategy leads to pure failure.

  • Maventwo

    But Motorola seems to be the first Smartphonemaker that will introduce Intel Atom SoC in their Razr model.

    Samsung Mobile Display will introduce flexible amoleds during CES 2013 which probably can be partially transparent because Samsung “Youm” amoleds will have amorf polyamide as substrate and one of amorf polyamides properties is that it is transparent.

    And when no current is on the pixels in a “Youm” amoled display it will be transparent.

    Future cam sensors made of carbon materials like graphene or molybdenite can also be transparent!
    For Augmented reality it is especially interesting property when the components in future smartphones can be transparent.

  • Maventwo

    You “forget” that it is not only a lot of customers that won´t have to pay for OS in smartphones.
    Even smartphonemakers won´t pay a lot of money for using a specific OS in their smartphones.

  • Joakim

    “$50 Android phones today have ARM Cortex-A9 and dual-sim modem, all integrated, smooth WVGA capacitive touch screen included, 4″ easily. $50. Today.”

    No, there is not a single phone with those specs, please point to one if you’ve seen it. There are phones that may have a few of those features, but only from no-name Chinese brands that do not sell outside China. They also do not integrate any google services, as they’re not officially Android certified, so google can only make money off search ads from them.

    “During 2013, ergo during the first wave of Google-designed Motorola range of phones, the basic $25 Android phone is going to work perfectly fine. Expect WQVGA 480×320 4″ screen, ARM Cortex-A9 single-core at the minimum, dual-sim included, no problem.”

    No problem, as in they will not exist! :D

    “Google is making $100 per year during 2012 per Android user in the USA and Western Europe. That is pure fact. You are the one making numbers up. If you can’t divide Google’s yearly revenues with Google’s yearly number of users and Android users, then I dunno, I don’t have time to give maths lessons, sorry.”

    I think you need a lesson in citing your data and sources, likely math too. You have not given what number you are using for google’s android revenue nor the number of users, so there is no math to be done: you are simply pulling that $100 figure out of your ass.

    “Google makes $100 per year per user in the USA and Western Europe. Shall I write it again or is there no need?”

    You can write it as many times as you want, but since you cannot back it up with any facts or sources, it just means we laugh at you every time. :) You have seen me repeatedly link to my sources. Since you cannot do the same, you are obviously full of shit.

    “So sure Google makes no where near that much per Android user in India, China, Brazil, Russia, Africa, etc. Sure sure. But I’m not either suggesting that Google needs to subsidize the cheap Motorola phones of 2013. What Google can easily do is sell the devices at cost price. No need for hardware profits, not even when selling to the massive emerging markets which are going to be the main growth for smartphones during 2013. Google can easily tell Motorola to sell the industry’s best $25, $50, $100 and $200 smartphones in 2013. Easy. Piece of cake. No hardware profits are required. Google can tell Motorola to sell it all through retail market. In all the supermarkets of the world. On all pre-paid carriers, they can all just buy directly on the open market, no need to cheat with bogus carrier contracts, Google doesn’t profit on those. Especially not in the emerging markets.”

    Not sure why you think google would want to buy a $10 billion business and not make a profit. Especially since “advertisers generally pay less than half as much for a Google ad accessed on a mobile device as they do for something searched from a plugged-in PC”, so they’re making less money from Android devices to begin with.

    “BB10 is a big joke. RIM needs to use Android, like everyone else. Same for Nokia. Any other strategy leads to pure failure.”

    It’s Android performance that is a big joke; BB10 is fast and smooth by comparison, as it’s based on the speedy QNX OS. It is only Android that is failing, as it makes no money compared to iOS (Samsung doesn’t contribute to Android development and google makes nothing, by comparison, from Android). Even google made more money off iOS than Android until last year. If Apple ever decides to take the billions they’ve made in the high-end of the market and enter into the mid-end, it’s game over for Android. That’s what happens when your product has no business model, it gets destroyed.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    $55 ARM Cortex-A9 MT6515 (2G only) dual-sim for around $55 in this video http://armdevices.net/2012/10/12/118-mt6577-5-wvga-90-7-mt6577-wvga-130-mt6577-5-3-qhd-by-u-force/ with about 3.5″ HVGA resolution, available today. The MediaTek based phones sell over 500 million units per year, not only in China. Throughout the developing world are buying these cheap MediaTek Android phones.

    Google does not make $1 off people paying anything for Google certification, the Google certification is free. And the cheap MediaTek phones can easily be certified if the maker wants them to be. They all pre-install all Google apps, Google Play Store and everything by default for free, without asking Google for any permission, Google does not mind, and even in China, all Google services are pre-installed on every Android phone, even the $50 ones being sold all over China and all over emerging countries right now.

    Motorola, Samsung, Huawei, and a bunch of other brands are probably also going to use MediaTek in their low-end phones during 2013, and those also sold all over Europe andd the USA at sub-$100 and sub-$200 prices, all over every super market worldwide.

    1.5 Billion Google users.
    $45 Billion Google revenue per year.
    Google makes an average of $30 per Google user per year.
    500 million active Android users today.
    Google makes WAY MORE than $30 per Android user per year.

    In fact, Android users demographics obviously point to Android Google users average revenue per year is way above $60 per year in average, when you limit to for example US-only Android users, or US and Europe-only Android users, you can easily imagine that Google is making above $100 per year in average on those Android users.

    Of course there are plenty of smartphone newbies that only send SMS and make phone calls, and maybe use 1 or 2 apps like Facebook and that’s it. Google doesn’t make huge money on those users. But if you limit your sample measurement to Galaxy S3 or Nexus 7 owners in the USA and Europe, you can be totally sure that Google is making above $100 per year in revenue on each of those users per year.

    The fact is Android users, tablet users, smartphone users in general, even Windows 8 users, those users become more and more addicted to the web, which means they become more and more confortable buying things online which means Google makes significantly more money on those people since they are much more likely to watch and click on their relevant ads.

    Samsung has more engineers invested in improving and optimizing open source free Android software than any other company in the world. Samsung has over 100 thousand engineers, the largest groups among them are dedicated at working on Android since Android is Samsung’s main profit business.

    Android generates over $25 Billion per year for Google. Android is the main profit and growth platform for all the worlds most important consumer electronics companies, by far. Samsung, LG, Huawei, ZTE, Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, HTC, and every supplier all over Asia, are all FULLY dependent on Android, they are all fully invested in Android, they all FULLY profit from Android.

    iOS is dead, completely dead. As soon as Apple is forced into the mid-range market, the Apple stock price will also be dead. And, by the way, Apple is preparing to use Android for iOS7 or iOS8, as soon as Apple is completely ridiculed in every court worldwide, Apple will abdicate and join the global standard which is Android. Android is like HTML5, Android is like HTTP, Android is the standard. Android can be as fast as QNX if need be, the point is the virtual machine environment is much much more preferable, that is the way to have 100% compatibility, 100% security, 100% interoperability, doing pure native code stuff does not scale thus is not usable. Using some of the devices performance to run the virtual machine systems is FULLY worth it.

  • Joakim

    Hmm, my response did not appear, just deleting comments now?

  • Joakim

    A week later and my comment still has not posted. I don’t read blogs where comments are just deleted like this, so I won’t be reading this blog anymore.

  • Alexander Moore

    Well if your hear to be mean and unrational i relay wouldn’t mind if that is what happened. I don’t think you’ll be missed.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    I don’t know what happened with your comment. Maybe catched in disqus spam or something.

  • Joakim

    Ah, I see you finally fished my comment out of the spam trap, where it was sitting for the last two weeks. Guess you didn’t actually delete it, good to know that. I don’t read blogs that delete comments, as if the blogger has to resort to such gestapo tactics, you know there’s no reason to stick around.

  • http://ARMdevices.net/ Charbax

    Disqus thought your comment was a spam so I saw it in the spam folder after your last comment and so I un-spammed it. Once Google buys and overtakes Disqus the anti-spam algorithms will be better.