How Motorola is Failing Its Android Customers Adam Mills02/23/2012 It has become clear that both HTC and Motorola have taken a back seat to Samsung when it comes to Android. While both HTC and Motorola have been talking about plans to scale back releases in 2012, Samsung employees have likely be dousing themselves in champagne celebrating the Samsung Galaxy S II surpassing the 20 million sold threshold. And that’s just one of its phones.Advertisement Samsung actually sold a grand total of 300 million phones in 2011. Motorola and HTC didn’t even come close to reaching that number. HTC has already told us why it thinks that is. It sold bulky phones with terrible battery life in 2011. See: HTC ThunderBolt.Advertisement It has also outlined a plan to solve that problem.Advertisement Release thinner, powerful phones with better battery life in 2012. Will that bring them back to par with Samsung? That remains to be seen but it’s a good start. Motorola on the other hand is suffering from vastly different problems, problems that I will argue is much worse then HTC’s. You see, one of the major benefits of Android is that it can be easily rooted and unlocked by device owners so that they can personally customize the software. Problem is, some companies like to lock down the software so users can’t do this. Or they like to release updates that break root and make it even harder for owners to customize.Advertisement HTC does not do this. In fact, HTC has decided to offer bootloader unlock tools for most of its phones. Users can go to its website, get a tool, unlock the bootloader on their phone, and customize to their hearts content. (Read: HTC Unlocks More Bootloaders, Makes Motorola Look Silly.) Motorola on the other hand continues to lock down its phones even though it made a pledge in 2011 to start unlocking them. We’re now in February 2012 and the only budge in policy is a feeble one. An overpriced developer version of the Motorola Droid RAZR that costs and arm and a leg and comes without warranty. (Read: Motorola’s Droid RAZR Developer Edition is a Slap in the Face.)Advertisement See, in a world where Android manufacturers are trying to differentiate themselves from one another, some companies have started to listen to their customers and Android enthusiasts alike. It’s good for business.Advertisement It’s good for Android. And it’s good for consumers. Unfortunately, locked bootloaders are only part of why Motorola is failing its Android customers. You see, there is something else that comes along with this willingness to engage and listen to customers and that’s transparency in regards to Android updates Oddly enough, that is something that is a huge deal to most Android smartphone and tablet owners. Today, we saw Sony release beta versions of Android 4.0 for some its Xperia devices. It may take awhile before the update arrives, but hey, at least its engaging its customers in conversation and asking them for their help. And HTC actually did the same for a few of its Sensation-branded smartphones. Motorola? It operates in the darkest shadows imaginable. Vague release windows. Silence. Soak tests that take place behind closed doors. It’s sad, really. And I truly believe that operating in this way is truly hurting the brand. Sooner or later, those who buy their first Droid-branded phone are going to find out about the limitations of the device. And those that do their homework before setting out to buy a new phone will have good reason to look elsewhere. Now assuming Motorola is truly trying to turn things around like HTC is, it’s going to have to make some changes. And those changes go far beyond releasing fewer Android phones in 2012. It’s time to listen. It’s time to stop making excuses. It’s time to get on the same page as everyone else. It’s time to stop failing your Android customers. And with a regime change supposedly coming with the Google acquisition, we might just see these things happen. Android and those who love Motorola products would be better for it.