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Motorola CEO Blames Open Android Store For Phone Performance Ills 384

Posted by timothy
from the I-blame-samsung dept.
angry tapir writes "Motorola's CEO blamed the open Android app store for performance issues on some phones. Of all the Motorola Android devices that are returned, 70 percent come back because applications affect performance, Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, said during a webcast presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology conference."
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Motorola CEO Blames Open Android Store For Phone Performance Ills

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  • by Sassinak (150422) <sassinak&sdf,lonestar,org> on Thursday June 02, 2011 @09:41PM (#36327290) Homepage

    A company passing blame on another company for its failings...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 02, 2011 @09:48PM (#36327342)
      They continually fail to address glaring issues with many of their Android products. They are often harsh when dealing with customers over on their support forums (I'm looking at you, Matt!) and they almost never give a straight answer. The whole "I have no new information" spiel is really getting old over there.

      Now I understand that many products have their problems. However, Motorola are just stupid when it comes to fixing them.
      • Talk is cheap, and I'll wait till HTC actually ship products with unlockable bootloaders. And their locked devices (sensation, flyer etc) most probably won't be unlocked. Much prefer Samsung & LG's attitude. Once you go low enough there is no lock down at al
    • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @09:52PM (#36327366)
      If you read the article he does raise valid concerns about poorly performing apps that may degrade the user's experience. He's not merely complaining, he's also suggesting a possible solution:

      "Motoblur collects information about customer use of applications and how that use relates to functions like power consumption. With that data, Motorola learns which applications drain power. "We are getting to the place that we should be able to warn you," Jha said. He envisions presenting a notice to users when they launch an application alerting them that using the application will drain 35 percent of the phone's power, for example, he said. The user can then decide to continue or conserve power."
      • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:10PM (#36327474)
        Only problem is, Motoblur is the application that will drain 35 percent of the phone's power and you can't get rid of it. Its sluggish and a power hog.
        • ... he just means that market apps can't compare to the awesomeness of bundled apps, like their bundled Blockbuster app, the crippled Skype VZW-only app, or the VZW Navigator app, which were hand picked by them. Besides, why would you want free apps when you can pay and get less?

      • by Svartalf (2997) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:19PM (#36327544) Homepage

        How about getting RID of MotoBlur...it was one of the problems causing the performance issues to BEGIN WITH.

      • Well, the thing is that all he has to complain about is their decision to ship a underperforming system. They built their phones, they tested their phones with the OS and applications, they knew that their performance sucks. Complaining that apps force their phones to lag away is exactly like complaining that your computer lags away if you happen to run anything other than a clean desktop environment. The thing is, if you ship a computer which is incapable of handling mundane apps which other phones han

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ace123 (758107)

          The Motorola CEO, while I disagree with the concern about the open market, is spot on about the performance issues. I don't want to pay for a more powerful phone, and I don't think I should have to. My Moto Droid with its 300MHz processor has actually had very good battery life -- several days outside the US in airplane mode, and two days with basic 3G use. I don't think a phone should need a 1GHz processor, and indeed the original iPhone had a "slow" processor and the UI is more responsive for basic UI tas

      • by fermion (181285)
        This reminds me of a study I had this morning concerning social networking abuse on the job. Evidently people who have access to public services like facebook and twitter use them for work, and sometimes they misuse them. The solution is, evidently, is to liscense MS solution that will regulate the use.

        What I see here is the failure of the OS to protect the user from rougue apps. If Android phones are not going to use Apple's process of vetting Apps to insure they behave, then the OS should do more. Fo

    • by jkabbe (631234)

      In fairness, Steve Jobs did see this coming during the whole "why can't the iPhone multi-task?" drama from a while back. IIRC, he predicted that users would have bad experiences with multitasking too much and blame it on the phones.

  • by gslavik (1015381) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @09:46PM (#36327330)

    Does he mean things like motoblur?

    • Motoblur (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:10PM (#36327470)

      Does he mean things like motoblur?

      Yep, the original Droid/Milestone was lighing fast running 2.1 and 2.2. When moto started to shoehorn in Motoblur they all of a sudden got really slow.

      Same with HTC Sense but HTC are at least smart enough to chuck in lots of extra RAM to handle their bloated interface. I've been running Cyanogenmod on my Desire Z since 3 days after I got it and I've been more then pleased with how fast it is, Cyanogenmod uses ADW launcher which has a crapload of features (so much so it suffers from Kitchen Sink-itis) but is still very very fast.

      I used to be a fan of Android on Moto, but between locked bootloaders and crappy social network based interfaces that slow everything down have completely changed my opinion on Moto. They are floundering because of bad design decision in using Motoblur, not because of Androids openness.

      After HTC and Samsung, I'd rather buy a Huawei phone simply because they used the vanilla interface.

      • by Kitkoan (1719118)
        Might be worth looking into HTC still since they've declared they are going to only be selling unlocked bootloaders on their phones. [slashdot.org] I know when I'm able to get a new android phone cheap again (with my contract) I'll be looking at a HTC since if I don't like what they give me I can just wipe it with a custom rom.
        • by mjwx (966435)

          Might be worth looking into HTC still since they've declared they are going to only be selling unlocked bootloaders on their phones. [slashdot.org] I know when I'm able to get a new android phone cheap again (with my contract) I'll be looking at a HTC since if I don't like what they give me I can just wipe it with a custom rom.

          HTC is well supported by Cyanogenmod. The HW is typically good although on my Desire Z the internal speaker is nowhere near as good as a Samsung Galaxy S or Moto Milestone.

          Samsung has also not locked the bootloader on the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 (AFAIK, so don't accept this as gospel).

          • Galaxy s II bootloader is open.shame the current Gen of HTC devices with already locked bootloads (sensation, flyer) won't be unlocked though. Sent from my Galaxy s ii
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by izomiac (815208)
      Nah, the 195 apps [chadhaney.com] that are preinstalled (hence cannot be removed by design) on the Droid X couldn't possibly be impacting performance. For comparison, a plain AOSP Gingerbread system image has 45 apps. IIRC, the average android user installs fewer than 10 apps, so obviously 150 extra should come with the phone.

      To be fair, I'm counting '.apk' files in the /system/app folder. Many of these are blur_facebook, blur_twitter, etc., and not standalone applications. These aren't all listed in the app launche
      • Re:3rd party apps? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:52PM (#36327782)

        I had a Motorola Backflip for a while, I loved the concept, but the large number of apps that they insisted upon installing with the firmware, the ones I couldn't uninstall pretty much killed it for me. On top of that because they opted to use their Motoblur, it meant that had I kept the phone that I would have ended up waiting for them to QA that on top of whatever time it took for Google to release an update.

        It being tightly locked down really didn't help anything.

  • And how many of those "problem" applications were malware, badly written, or just the bloatware pre-installed on the phone from the carrier?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 02, 2011 @09:48PM (#36327346)

    Because of the black box nature of smart phone, developers of smart phone applications are never held accountable for the resources their application consume. It should be standard to be able to see the amount of CPU, RAM and network I/O each application is generating so that hogs which cause performance, battery life or network overages can easily be spotted. As far as I can tell, neither Apple, Google or Microsoft has taken seriously exposing this type of data as a standard part of their phone software stack. Hence, we are left in situation similar to when the food industry was not required to put a break down of the nutritional information of the food The smart phone users have apps contributing "fat" and "sugar" into the smart phone's diet without any hard numbers to evaluate that impact.

    • by Xacid (560407)

      Amen to this. The closer our phones get to computers to more and more we need something like this.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:14PM (#36327498)

      "Top" needs to be standard on smart phones

      I cannot emphasize strongly enough the horror and despair for humanity I see in this single phrase.

      It's like saying back in the caveman days that what we really needed was a better rock to carve . No, we needed to move on from the cave and invent fire and dwellings.

      We need to move BEYOND what we have have, what we know. We cannot keep producing computing devices for humanity that require as standard anything like Top. We need to have systems that actually exhibit some of the AI we've been working for decades on, and not have to have every user know what a process is, or indeed manage anything.

      Sorry, but our baby cannot stay a baby forever, because a 50-year old baby you still have to treat like a baby is mentally damaged. We have to let computing be usable by everyone, not working fully only for the anointed and requiring mothering because we cannot tear ourselves loose from that model.

      • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:22PM (#36327556)

        We need to move BEYOND what we have have, what we know.

        Sure, but that means something better than top, not some dumb-down interface that hides all the useful information.

        We need to have systems that actually exhibit some of the AI we've been working for decades on

        If we actually had any kind of AI that might make sense. Generally speaking, in my experience when you try to hide the details from users you end up with an interface that's Artificially Stupid, not Artificially Intelligent.

        • Wrong again (Score:2, Troll)

          by SuperKendall (25149)

          Sure, but that means something better than top, not some dumb-down interface that hides all the useful information.

          There is no need for people to HAVE to view this information. People who want it will always be able to have it, so instead the design needs to be focused on how can a normal person NOT have it and be OK.

          If we actually had any kind of AI that might make sense.

          Well I don't know if you'd consider it AI or not but we have pretty good expert systems.

          It's not about hiding anything from the user. I

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Sure there is a need.

            This CEO is whining about apps being resource hogs.

            THAT is what top is for: to tell you what the offending party is rather than just randomly b*tch and moan about it and act like nothing can be done.

            Top may be too "geeky" for you but something needs to fill it's role.

            Something needs to be there to answer the call when the end user asks: "What the h*ll is sucking the life out of this thing? Can I kill it and erase it?".

        • I don't think the sort of people who would install resource hungry apps on their phone and then be puzzled enough by the lack of resources to take it back to the store, would benefit from any interface anyone could devise. If anything, phone hardware should be sold more like computer hardware. With memory and processor and storage being prominent in the advertising.
          • I don't think the sort of people who would install resource hungry apps on their phone and then be puzzled enough by the lack of resources to take it back to the store, would benefit from any interface anyone could devise.

            Sure they would. That's why Apple has had such huge success - they have every type of app Android has and then some, but normal people cannot screw themselves over the way they can so easily on Android.

            I am not saying that to praise Apple. I am saying that to lay down heavy blame at the

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          You mean like the built-in Android task manager that shows you all running apps (including background services), how much memory and CPU time they are using and how much data they have stored? Or the battery life display that tells you exactly how much power each app used, as well as different bits of hardware like the radios and screen?

          When an Android phone's battery is low the "charge me" prompt includes a button to go directly to the battery usage screen.

      • by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:34PM (#36327662) Homepage

        Bingo. Apple is right on this one, you shouldn't need anything like this. The fact that you do says that something is broken.

        That was one of their arguments for why multi-tasking took so long on the iPhone, and why it's not true multi-tasking like on a desktop (or Android). They wanted to avoid this exact problem. Of the people I know with Android phones, this is one of the things they complain about. They ship with crapware that can be very difficult to uninstall or just exit so it doesn't keep sucking up your CPU/battery. Just about a page above this comment is one from someone who rooted the phone on day 3 to remove junk and get it to perform smoothly.

        Windows Mobile had programs like top because the OS couldn't manage resources well. My Dell Axim x50v (which was WM 5.5, I think) came with a little program pre-installed by Dell to let you quit applications through a tap on a shortcut on the top menu bar. And do you know why? For convenience? No, because it was necessary. There was no other way to quit apps (except digging through settings to find the task manager and force-quitting them). If you didn't stay on top and manage them, programs would use all your CPU or memory, and things would slow down (or not open). It was terrible.

        The fact that Apple can do basic tests to make sure your post-to-twitter app doesn't use 100% CPU all the time is a good thing in my book. I realize you can side load things, but I would like to see Google try to do the same. Certainly I think Amazon should. As a consumer using an appliance (which is the way I use my iPhone), I want to be able to buy apps without having to worry about that kind of thing. Ensuring "manners" from apps, that they generally function correctly... that's the kind of thing I want out of my app store. I hope some of the stores out there (Amazon, carriers, etc) decide to do that. It seems it would be in their interest (as the article attests).

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          They ship with crapware that can be very difficult to uninstall or just exit so it doesn't keep sucking up your CPU/battery.

          You don't need to quit them, Android apps don't work that way. In fact most don't even have a quit option. The phone simply kills them off when they are in the background and it needs more memory for a foreground app.

          Google only does basic quality testing, the rest is up to users to comment about and rate in the market. That is the Google way - all content is user generated, including testing. I can see your point about Apple's more thorough testing but I prefer to make up my own mind, and having Apple filt

      • by sjames (1099) on Friday June 03, 2011 @01:07AM (#36328420) Homepage

        The carriers would never allow it! The AI would kill all their shovelware and all the crap they add for no better reason than to let the marketing department and execs mark their territory (in exactly the way most animals do).

        That out of my system, I don't think smartphones are up to any sort of AI operating system at this point, even if we had one to port. Beyond that, what would you have an AI do to keep the phone responsive yet not kill off the users favorite waste of cycles? How many meg of space should be granted to the AI in order to replace 4K worth of top?

  • And what about Motoblur which devours battery life with its constant updating of EVERYTHING?

  • by w0mprat (1317953) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:00PM (#36327400)
    From my (basic) understanding of Android and how it's multitasking it works: No.

    This is nothing to do with the App store being open, this is more to do with Android App devs no doubt learning to code on a PC and not really getting to grips with coding for a mobile environment how Android multitasks in a unique way. In desktop development power consumption is rarely even thought about.

    http://android-developers.blogspot.com/2010/04/multitasking-android-way.html

    They need to go with it rather than try to workaround it. Nor at times do they seem to grasp what limited resources and a battery mean and how Google designed around these limitations.

    If you encounter an App that behaves poorly, uninstall it, rate it low in the market and harass the developer. That's what the rating system is for.

    Often you'll find many alternatives that achieve the same thing - inexplicably one app may hog battery in the background, one may not at all. It's lazy rushed make-a-buck development pure and simple.
    • 6 in one hand, half a dozen in the other, you are saying the same thing he is saying. That the Apps from the app store are poorly written, take up to many resources, and cause the device to have poor performance. People that get poor performance from a device and the apps they install return the device because they believe it has to be the devices fault, because the programs where made for the phone since they were in the app store for that device. Remember, the normal user are not rational and don't ass
    • by MBCook (132727)

      It does have something to do with the app store being open. I believe that if you tried to submit an application that sucked down too much CPU (such as using 100% at idle) that it would be rejected from Apple's app store. More subtle waste, probably not, but obvious junk is probably caught by their automated testing.

      By doing less QA on apps going into the store, Android can have problems like this more easily.

      But your right, this is no different from the problems you see everywhere else. I've seen Flash v

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      Well, I have an Atrix now. I had iPhones up to the 3GS.

      Android multitasking flat out sucks. My android friends try to say "Oh But Android *really* multitasks" and that's true, but the complete wrong solution. FWIW, iOS multitasks too. Just fine. It's Apple's restrictions that make them register a background function that is metered out. Why do they meter it out? To make the battery last!

      Full-on multitasking is the wrong approach on a battery-powered device. You have to change your accounting method to accou

    • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 03, 2011 @01:07AM (#36328422) Homepage

      This is nothing to do with the App store being open, this is more to do with Android App devs no doubt learning to code on a PC and not really getting to grips with coding for a mobile environment how Android multitasks in a unique way. In desktop development power consumption is rarely even thought about.

      That's amusing. Google has re-invented Go Computer's PenPoint. That's how they ran multiple semi-persistent applications on their tablet in the late 1980s.

  • by toonces33 (841696) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:01PM (#36327406)

    A Cliq, to be precise. And if I could, I would return the thing, but I only have 6 months to go on the thing and after that I can get another phone. And I can pretty much guarantee that the next phone won't be a Moto phone.
    The problem isn't the app store - the problem is that Moto builds crappy phones, and is then unable to provide updates in a timely fashion.

    Some of the problems with Moto phones are just that they choose underpowered processors or more limited memory, and if you get too many apps installed the phone just dogs down. There are times that I press something, it takes a good 30 seconds before the phone responds. If I uninstall a few apps, it goes much better.

    Motoblur is the 2nd issue I have with those phones. While Moto denies it, I suspect that in part it is the reason why they have such difficulties providing updates to the phones. My wife has a Droid and that doesn't have Blur, and they have no trouble getting updates out the door.

    • by scorp1us (235526)

      I have an Atrix and all the Moto apps suck. And something as simple as entering text into them is noticeably delayed. And its common to all the moto apps. What the hell is it doing?

      I usually replace the motocrap with free stuff from the market.

      My favorite was the image viewer in the SMS app. It only shows the image 1/2 size, for 8 seconds, then puts it at 1/4 size. No idea how or why, or how to turn it off. So I switched to GoSMS Pro.

  • and have ignored it. The original Droid (which I bought the day it was available, and still use) put Moto on the Android map, and yet they have done everything they can to vary from the things that made this device a huge success: No Motoblur, no locked and/or encrypted bootloaders, and a mostly vanilla Android experience. One need only read most any Android forum to see how many people regret 'upgrading' from the Droid 1 to another Moto device. I know I was originally excited to hear about new Moto Andro
    • by ArtDent (83554)

      This. A thousand times this.

      If I was a Motorola customer or shareholder, I'd be calling for Jha's head. I'm neither, and there are plenty of other manufacturers putting out great Android wares to choose from, so I'm just pointing and laughing.

      Goodbye Motorola, we hardly missed ye.

  • I mean droid or android, there is no way people would confuse those right? Motorola has fallen a long way and it looks like they are not done yet. They may go bankrupt instead of chose to actually compete in the marketplace instead of trying to bully people unfortunate enough to buy their products.
  • by oGMo (379) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:34PM (#36327658)

    Just got a droid X2. You'd think with half a gig of ram and a 1GHz dual-core chip in there it'd be a little faster than my droid1. Well, it is now, since I rooted it and froze most of the preinstalled Motorola and Verizon crap, replacing it with "open store" alternatives. Before, you wouldn't believe how horrifically bad it was; doing anything from opening an app to merely trying to scroll the screen would cause delays of upwards of 5-10 seconds. Almost returned it myself.

    (For others with this phone/problem, nuking the DLNA and BackupAssistant stuff seemed to help the most.)

  • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:35PM (#36327670)
    I'll take that without a large pinch of salt when other manufacturers chime in with similar stats on returns that they think are due to this issue.

    Motoblur collects information about customer use of applications and how that use relates to functions like power consumption. With that data, Motorola learns which applications drain power.

    I wonder how many people know their phone is reporting this activity back to Motorola. I might have to check what my phone is doing, I'm in a part of the world where cellular data access is neither free nor unlimited (unless you are on an expensive contract, which I am not).

    It would actually be interesting to see this information myself. I've just had a mooch around my phone and the "portal" available when connected to a PC and can't see any interface to show such data.

    I wonder how much CPU time and battery power the included apps that I can't seem to uninstall and which keep restarting themselves after a while when I kill them with a task manager. I can tell you that the battery life on this Motorola phone has been laughable (quite frankly I consider the battery life specs on the sales information for this phone to be simply fraudulent) since I got it, before any extra apps were added by myself, and adding apps doesn't seem to have made it significantly worse (aside from the wireless tethering tool, but as that keeps the wifi and 3G radios at full tilt when in use I expect that to drain battery power far quicker than normal).

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      I'm digging my new Android. Love it compared to the iThing it replaced. I don't feel at all "deprived" for switching and my Android device is certainly "perky" enough compared to the Apple device I used before.

      Perhaps Motorola needs to stop blaming others.

      If you've got 70% returns, then it's not the stuff people are adding to it that's the problem.

  • by whoop (194) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:35PM (#36327678) Homepage

    If you people would just stop using your phone for apps, games, or hell, even calls, you'd clearly see the superior Motorola phones give you no trouble. Why, I've had mine holding down a small stack of papers for well over six months without ever a hiccup!

    Sincerely,
      Joe Motorola.

  • We've been here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gadzook33 (740455) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:37PM (#36327686)
    Shocking, the same third party issues that caused MS so many headaches for so many years also applies to phones. The difference is people can tolerate some complexity on their desktop. Apple figured out the vertical integration thing when it came to phones. People don't want a PC in their hand, they want a well-running appliance. The failure to grasp that will be Android's undoing.
    • Re:We've been here (Score:4, Insightful)

      by UttBuggly (871776) on Thursday June 02, 2011 @10:58PM (#36327836)

      Shocking, the same third party issues that caused MS so many headaches for so many years also applies to phones. The difference is people can tolerate some complexity on their desktop. Apple figured out the vertical integration thing when it came to phones. People don't want a PC in their hand, they want a well-running appliance. The failure to grasp that will be Android's undoing.

      Yes, I have an iPhone but I don't feel I'm a fan of Apple nor a critic of Motorola, Android, and all things NOT made by Apple.

      What I do insist on is technology that works, out of the box, without RTFM.

      I've been in IT 34 years, and in fact retired TODAY (takes a bow) and that has become my litmus test for tech. I was a senior IT manager, primarily networks, for a 20+ billion dollar company and the last thing I had time to dink with was my freakin' phone. That's the primary reason I chose an iPhone.

      I don't think Android is going to fail...just too much inertia...but they may not do as well as they envisioned until they get some coherency in their OS and application development. Their blessing is indeed their curse.

  • The awesome part is that when some joker returns his Atrix because its "too slow", you can turn around it buy it refurbished for half price!

    Actually seriously, I just got an atrix not too long ago and from what I've seen the biggest problems have nothing to do with apps in themselves:

    Large widgets (in terms of screen real estate) slow down the interface much like a large sprite will slow down your 3d game. Clearly this is caused by double-rendering if not other inefficiencies

    Live backgrounds slow things dow

  • Adding capabilities to Motoblur is one way that Motorola can try to set itself apart in an increasingly crowded Android market.

    I would like to see manufacturers release pure Android phones and compete on hardware. It seems to me that a manufacturer could easily set themselves apart by advertising the pure Google experience, much like the Nexus phones do.

    Why don't they compete to see who can release the latest update first? I know I'd be more inclined to go with the company that doesn't drag out updates (or

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