Android Central

As part of its Q4 2012 earnings call, Google execs expanded on the current status of Motorola, the division's financials and future integration between the companies. Responding to a question about the current state of Motorola's financials, Senior VP and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette reiterated that when Google purchased Motorola it inherited a 12- to 18-month product pipeline that isn't easily changeable. Google bought Motorola, which already had products promised to customers. That's business.

He explained that although many improvements have been made -- in regards to selling the home division of Motorola and restructuring its financials -- that Google is still only 6 months post-acquisition and these changes take a considerable amount of time. Pichette had this to say:

"It's just the nature of the beast when you're reinventing a business."

Even though Motorola is certainly losing money at this point, the amount is non-consequential to Google nor Motorola's long-term goals or profitability. Make no mistake about it, Google wants Motorola to be profitable:

"We do care about profitability, and that is our goal with every one of the areas where we invest," Pichette said. "We're not in the business of losing money with Motorola."

Financial issues with Motorola aside, it's understandable that it will take some time for Google to turn the business around and make it work the way they want it to. Newly appointed CEO Dennis Woodside is working to trim down the unnecessary parts of the business so that it operates on a core set of products. Google has said as much since the day it bought Motorola, and this will continue to be the plan going forward.

You can take a listen to this portion of the Q4 2012 earnings call below.


Reader comments

Google reiterates Motorola still in transitional phase, with 12- to 18-month product roadmap


Taking their time is one thing, something all of us can understand. Royally screwing over their customers though (ask anyone with an Atrix, Photon, Electrify, Bionic, Droid 3...) is something else entirely. If they want to prove Motorola is finally changing for the better, they need to go back and fulfill their broken promises.

And no, that $100 discount on another Motorola phone does NOT count as an acceptable solution.

I believe he is referring to updates that those models never got. My fiance has a Photon 4G Motorola said it would be getting Ice Cream Sandwich but they retracted that months later. I would say "royally screwed" is a bit dramatic though.

Yes, that is what I'm referring to. And if this were any other update, I'd agree. However, this is Gingerbread (2.3) to ICS (4.0), hands down the biggest change to ever happen with Android. ICS was a complete overhaul, a fresh break from the old. By denying these perfectly capable phones from this update (which was promised for quite a while, many bought these phones specifically because Motorola promised this update) they've been severely handicapped. Even custom roms are hindered by this.

Its not just the lack of update, but the WAY it was canceled. They did it completely silently, and late on a friday night to try and minimize the inevitable backlash. This was after changing their update page to say "Further details coming soon" a few weeks earlier. Why not just say from the get-go that this update wouldn't happen? Either at the point where "Further details" was added, or not even make the promise in the first place.

For photon owners, they even pushed out a GB maitnence update that permanently locked their bootloaders. So even if we ever do get 4.X custom roms to a point where they could be considered usable, those people wont ever be able to run them.

To add insult to injury, the canceled update was leaked for the Atrix... and guess what? Aside from the horrid battery life due to all the extra debugging stuff, it works fine. There's no major show stopping bugs anyone can see. These updates were canceled because of corporate greed in trying to extort money in the form of new handset purchases, plain and simple. There's no other explanation that makes sense.

After all that, I dont see how one could say "royally screwed" is dramatic. Many of us vowed never to buy a Motorola device again after all this, and I think we have a perfectly valid reason to say that.

Not saying it like a jerk, but that is why one should just buy a nexus device. It is these stories (and one I personally went through with a garbage G2X) that has made me sworn off any android device that is not a nexus. Those promises really suck and irritate a whole hella lot.

You dont sound like a jerk, you're absolutely right. When my contract is up, my next phone will be a Nexus because of this very experience. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if things like this are why the N4's demand is so high that it's constantly out of stock.

I know with the Nexus 4 specifically, it is a completely DIY handset which takes a bit of tinkering with to get going properly. It can be a bit of a hassle if you're not very tech savvy.

My girlfriend and I went from a GSII and Photon to a GNex and Nexus 4 for eaxactly these reasons. Even when the promises are kept, the updates take so long because of custom skins and trying to get through the carriers, that it's not worth it.

I don't see myself ever buying another non-Nexus device.

The downside being Nexus phones having sub-par hardware compared to other flagships in the same time period,(especially in cameras, which I use often) and not beng available on all carriers. I have a GN on VZW, and the best I can get for a close to stock experience is a Moto RaZR HD.

Get a Nexus 4 then. Hardware is up to specs, except for Camera, I'll give you that, but I would say for the price, the camera is very good, much better then the GN camera for sure.

It seems like Motorola is moving in the right direction with device support.

The Razr and Razr MAXX has already received one major software upgrade, several smaller fix packs, and is about to receive a second major update to Jelly Bean. I don't see any more updates in the future for that device however for the following reasons.

In the wild world of Android it is not going to be profitable for the manf. and carriers to offer major updates more than 9-14 months beyond release since the device will have moved down the tiers from the flagship to a discount/leader phone while the cost of developing and testing the upgrades increases as the hardware 'ages' relative to the current software.

There will always be custom ROMs for the few who want to go that route, the Nexus devices for those who want more life out of a handset while staying at the current release, and the ability to upgrade devices every couple of years or so. Of course it is the latter that everyone would like us to choose :)

First, you can't measure Motorola's support by a Verizon device alone. The reality is that Motorola continues to put Verizon as a priority, whether it's the quality of devices, what devices get updates first if at all, even just basic support. All of that is Verizon first, everyone else last.

Also, as to the line about "updates more than 9-14 months beyond release". You are aware of the Open Handset Alliance agreement (18 months of updates). Furthermore, when the ICS update "commitment", and I use that term loosely, for Atrix was finally announced, that was mid February 2012, 4 months after the public release of ICS. At this time, the device was a year old. The Atrix 2 was less than a year old when the ICS update rolled out for it, and upon that update release, Motorola said that device would not receive JB, despite the effort required being minimal at best. At the same time, the older Bionic will receive both ICS and JB.

Furthermore, the cost of updates can be shared across multiple devices that use the same hardware. They don't have to be perfect matches, just similar enough so that you can use the same code base and add compiler directives to account for the differences in the devices (screen, radio, camera, etc..). This way, you can roll out an update across all of those similar devices at once, across multiple carriers and markets. They don't have to use the update, but you can at least make it available without needlessly duplicating effort.

The problem in this case is that they went in the opposite direction, choosing the most costly route of all. Each device had a separate ROM built for each carrier, right down to the kernel rather than using a common code base and using carrier specific customizations, resulting in not just multiple ROMS for a single device, but multiple kernels as well.

The Atrix 4G has only had Froyo, and Gingerbread, but if you look at the Sourceforge repo, there are 5 different sets of kernels, a set for each carrier or market, but the updates are spread unevenly across them, which means they worked on each one separately rather than a single effort for all of them. And when you multiply that by the number of devices that shared much of the same hardware, you can get a basic idea of the time and money wasted.

In fact, even the repo itself is an example of Motorola's inefficiency, as you cannot even download a complete set of files at once (git, svn, zip) but instead, you have to download individual files and archives individually, hoping that you didn't miss any of them.

And btw, custom ROM's aren't always an option, especially when the bootloader is locked and encrypted. This has happened with the Photon 4G, where an update did this, or with replacement Atrix 4G's.

I've stuck with my vow..
Almost bought the Photon Q, but then I remembered is made by Motorola and quickly put it down.
As it turns out the Photon Q is one of the worst phones on Sprint right now.

Hey Motorola, your name actually means something now, "Do not buy!".

Trust me when I say you lost nothing..I owned 2 Bionic phones and when they went to update to ICS whwn they should have known that the phone could not even handle ICS...The battery usage tripled and the screen would take extremely long to load the simplest of Web pages. Ultimately, I had two replace both Bionic s and actually asked them if I co I ls revert back to old OS version since the new OS but the phone completely useless so just food for thought but beware what you wish for....

That's no excuse. Motorola has an image problem. Google's job is to fix it. You dont fix it by throwing out your old customers.

Edit: I should add, according to Punit Soni's Google+ page its obvious that it was after Google had taken control of the company that these updates were canceled. His claim is that Google decided to narrow which devices they would support because Moto had so many of them. Needless to say, they handled this poorly... you buy a company, you buy their old obligations.

It's not an excuse... it's a fact. When a company gets bought, stuff changes. Motorola was in the crapper because they made poor business decisions... what you're saying is Google should have kept going with those decisions.
it takes time to change a company. Granted, I'm 100% committed to Nexus devices, but Google needs more than 6 months to fix the Motorola Morasse.

So then you delay updates instead of cancelling them completely, especially when they're already 90% finished and could have shared a common code base. Another delay certainly would have been preferable to never. You don't absolve a company's obligations by simply putting a new name on the door.

+1 Jotokun, nicely worded.

12-18 mos. huh? I wonder what month the promised, then cancelled, ICS upgrade for all of us was?

Every time a new app from Google comes out that now requires ICS is like salt in the wound.

Thanks Moto.

The Razr HD, M and i were a great step forward but Google needs to design better phones and reiterate their commitment to their customers. They need to turn around the tarnished image of Motorola if they want to be successful. By 2014, we should see the fruition of a Motorola that Google envisioned and we can go from there. Until then, we're stuck with Motorola's old roadmap products.

I think the biggest change has been obvious on the newer phones revamped blur skin. Looking forward to the future hopefully not handcuffed to Verizon Motorola phones.

The best thing Google can do to Motorola is force them to make nothing but purely stock devices. Consumers are already proving that they love Android in its purest form with the success of the last two Nexus phones, especially the N4. One stock phone a year just isn't enough.

And that doesn't mean it has to be all Nexus phones. Nexus means a lot more than just vanilla Android.

No, pure android with nothing added wouls fail with a capital F compared to just about anything.

Consumers, not just you and I but off the street consumers, want bells and whistles. I show them a plain Android Phone and an Android Phone with "things" the second will win hands down.

I think everyone expects to much to soon, and you guys are wasiting your time. The adverage consumer has the power and if they don't make a fuss about updates or Moto than Google nor Moto will give two fu*ks. We are the 1%.

"Google bought Motorola, which already had products promised to customers. That's business." Yes, yes Motorola has/HAD products promised to customers. As a MotoFail Atrix 4G owner...WHERE THE F#@! IS MY ICS?!?!?! Thank goodness for the development community, without them I'd be back using my old Samsung flip phone...Ahh the dark ages of technology.

Update: I guess in all fairness...somewhat. Since MotoFail was mainly acquired for its patents and not really for hardware I can see how the ball is being dropped for the phones. With the sell of the set-top box division and soon to be more sold, I don't see Google having any interest in fulfilling any prior promises made by MotoFail. "Just take the patents and run" will likely end up being their motto.

Christ... quit your crying. ICS sucks anyhow, it's got awful lag. There's a reason JB came out so fast afterwards. You're better off with your device as-is than with ICS.

1. Rebranding Motorola.

Many Americans seem to embrace the company and by all means I'm sure it has good radios and phone signal. But is it all through America-Goggles?
I've sold lot of phones in Finland and customers never ask anything about Motorola. Overall the company doesn't have much support in Europe.

So refresh Moto with perhaps changing the name & CHANGE THE UGLY LOGO. Something Googleish, something innovative and fresh.

2. Build Nexus / X phone that actually has the specs to match up with the big boys + better camera. Same thing with LG. I'm not buying LG phone until everything is sorted out. If I buy a Nexus phone, I want it to be cutting edge.

3. For the love of God: No glass covers with glitter my-little-pony style on the flip side. Apple's design actually looks like it's all been polished. People want to feel the premium. Although I'm not sure what Google wants. Good & cheap phone or flagship, stock phone with pole position in the market. I still believe that the best phone (hardware, software & design)will outsell it's competitors.

Not really. ICS opens a path to JB by third party developers, and without an official ICS release, the odds of a **fully functional** JB ROM are next to none. You can use the ICS kernel with JB, you can't use the GB kernel with ICS and have everything working.