At CES this week, we sat down in a session with Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha who covered a wide range of topics ranging from the company's newly-announced phones to Webtop and everything in between (although it's currently in its financial quiet period, so we didn't much detail on quarterly performance). One comment in particular stood out: Jha mentioned that the company wants to make fewer phones, bucking a trend most major Android manufacturers have pushed hard in the last couple years.
What's behind the decision? A big motivating factor is Jha's desire to better focus Motorola's marketing dollars. We pressed him on rather obvious examples of what he calls "incremental innovation" — the Droid Bionic and the Droid RAZR, for instance — but Jha defended them, saying the Bionic had been delayed significantly beyond Motorola's original target of mid-2011.
We also talked about OEMs' perennial press to skin the operating system — a trend that looks poised to continue in Android 4.0 — which developed into a full-blown conversation about the conflict between the mythical "stock Android device" and the realities of business between manufacturers like Motorola and carriers. "Verizon and AT&T don't want seven stock ICS devices on their shelves," he said, insisting that he "has to make money" and that there simply isn't a way to profit on a device that isn't differentiated. "The vast majority of the changes we make to the OS are to meet the requirements that carriers have."
We'll have more news from our conversation shortly.