Guy Martin: With close to 5 million Linux-based smartphones shipped to date, Motorola has brought the platform beyond the 'experimental stage' -- and in doing so, solved a number of the more difficult problems.
Right now, it’s a matter of refining and optimizing the system to run in the relatively constrained mobile environment (memory footprint, processing power, etc.). It's the classic example of form vs. function -- and in many cases, tradeoffs need to be made. Power management optimization is an on-going challenge, especially in getting Linux power management to be aware of external components like the radio -- but we continue to work through these issues to fully optimize our Linux-based handsets.
7. Is binary compatibility going to be kept between most of your (and others who will use your stack) future Linux cellphones?
Guy Martin: With a common Linux platform, the goal is to keep binary compatibility as much as possible. Since this is still a new market space, the Mobile Linux Foundation initiative will play an important role in making sure that applications written for this stack will run on any phone utilizing it.
8. Comparing the Symbian/S60, Windows Mobile and PalmOS, how is Linux better or worse than these solutions?
Guy Martin: Motorola in one of the only manufacturers to have worked with all major operating systems – from Symbian to BREW to Windows to Linux to our own proprietary solution. In so doing, we’ve learned that each has it’s own strengths and challenges. However, when looking across all the key criteria for choosing an OS (i.e., speed to market, cost savings, flexibility, innovation potential, etc.) we’ve found that Linux is the most capable.
By working with Linux, Motorola can bring new capabilities to market quicker and take advantage of best-of-breed solutions to support our customers and their subscribers. Having been part of the Linux and Open Source community for quite a while, I'm excited that we will be using a platform that is open and has been peer-reviewed by a large community.
However, I want to emphasize that one size does not fit all in this industry. MSFT, Symbian and BREW have strengths (e.g., MSFT is good for the enterprise) and some customers ask for specific operating systems, so we work to accommodate those requests. Motorola recognizes the need to complement our Linux+Java offerings with strategies that support specific market segments as well.
In the end, it’s about delivering the best mobile experiences for our customers and their subscribers. We believe Linux-based platforms support this goal best, but we’ll support differentiated approaches when it makes good business sense.
9. Do you believe that carriers have way too much control or influence over the industrial, software and technical design of a cellphone? Is it possible to be a cellphone manufacturer and still be successful by selling phones in the freely in the market rather through a carrier, or is this a pipe dream?
Guy Martin: We work very closely with our operator partners to design and tailor our handsets for the ultimate consumer experience. It is not hard to see why operators are concerned about what features/capabilities are in the phones that are on their networks -- they have invested a lot of time and capital to build out their infrastructure, and having native applications on the phone that have access to that network can be perceived as a risk.
Part of our ongoing work with the carriers is to help them better understand what the Open Source and enthusiast community can bring to the table in terms of compelling and safe native apps for the phone. They already understand the market for Java apps, so it is just a matter of getting them comfortable and familiar with the native space.
Per your second question, regarding retail, it really depends on the market. Motorola has actually been working in retail successfully for years -- especially in Asia where there is a dominant retail market. This is not my specific area of expertise.
10. Do you believe that all phones in 5-10 will be smartphones (==ability to run native apps)?
Guy Martin: The market for mobile devices in 5-10 years could be drastically different -- with a large percentage of the world today having never made a phone call (mobile or otherwise), I believe there will still be a large market for entry-level/basic mobile phones that serve primarily as communications devices.
That being said, business and 'power' users continue to demand better (and seamless) access to their data and their lives, so I believe in the coming years, we will see more and more 'smart' and/or 'feature' phones being developed. The needs of this class of early-adopter will continue to drive the higher-tier phone development cycle.
- "Guy Martin Interview, Page 1/2"
- "Guy Martin Interview, Page 2/2"