Motorola Wants To Give Their Users A Stock Android Experience – Verizon, Not So Much


Back when Google formally announced they were going to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 last year, many in the Android circles were optimistic that this would mean the complete end of Motoblur/Blur/MotoUI (whatever they’re calling it these days) user interface. As we’ve all seen, that wasn’t the case at all. I guess people underestimated Google’s promise that they’d keep Motorola operating independently (despite seeding its executive offices with former Googlers).

So, what gives? Why does Motorola hold onto Blur with no signs of letting go? Well, apparently this could have less to do with Motorola and a whole lot more to do with Verizon (surprise, surprise). Speaking with a handful of reporters, Motorola Senior Vice President Rick Osterloh answered questions on exactly why the company just wont give the people what they want, and release a completely stock Android experience in all their devices. His answer? It’s Verizon’s fault.

“Going forward, we’re going to try to be as close to the base as we can be, because we think that’s the right thing for users. We think users also want fast upgrades and upgrades for their phones over the long haul, so we’re going to be focus on that as well. It’s a little bit different than what a lot of OEMs are doing and certainly what Motorola did in the past, but going forward that’s going to be our strategy.”

Shipping pure AOSP software in all their devices should be cake, especially with Google taking the manufacturer under its wing. When asked exactly what the problem was, Mr. Osterloh pointed the fingers at the carriers saying,

“We are going to have to do some customization. Our partners sometimes want customizations. Our interest is to make [our UI] as close to Android as possible and generally we negotiate somewhere in the middle.”

Sounds about right to us. Remember, OEM’s like Motorola, HTC, and the like have to shop around their devices to the big carriers in hopes that they will snatched up. Sometimes, carriers like having small tweaks — just about anything different from their competitors that can give them that edge. Moving into 2013, and we saw some talk of this during the Motorola RAZR M, RAZR HD event, Motorola is taking updates a lot more serious this time around. Of course like all good things, even updates are left into the hands of the carriers. Just remember the next time you’re quick to lash out against an OEM on their Facebook pages, Twitter, etc — there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than you might think.



Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Blur kinda sucks so that would be cool. Do it on At&t?

    1. What makes you think AT&T would be any better?

      1. I have no idea, I’m just saying they should try it since I’m on At&t.

    2. New Blur > All other current Android OEM skins.

      1. Yea but Stock > everything.

      2. I actually prefer LG’s new UI above all the rest (I know, it sounds crazy). It’s closest to stock.

        1. actually Asus UI is the closest to stock..(i know they just started making phones)

        2. Negative, Motorola is the closest to stock that we have :)

        3. you must have not tried Motorola’s newest UI. I have the Atrix HD and it’s the closest thing to stock BY FAR. they have even been putting software navigation buttons on their devices as well :P

    3. You suck, you a loser. Moto blur is excellent.

  2. I dont understand why apple can push out their updates to all their devices over all carriers and android just cant seem to make it happen even though it is CLEARLY the superior / most selling OS.

    1. Because of carrier skins and the vastly different hardware configurations

    2. Pretty sure that’s because Apple controls the hardware and software, and puts stipulations and conditions into the agreements that say that all devices must be under their control, not the carriers.
      Whereas with Android, you’ve got a few different hands trying to control one product (a phone). You’ve got Google who supplies the OS free of charge, and as long as it meets some basic criteria for access to Google apps, doesn’t really seem to care about stock vs skins/UI overlays. You’ve got the manufacturer’s interests and what they think its users want. You’ve got the carrier’s interests and what they (usually erroneously) think their users want. And then you’ve got the users who sort of know what they want but the carriers and manufacturers are slow to listen or don’t listen at all.

    3. Because Apple controls everything down to a tee. Google just is a software provider and search king.

    4. But it’s precisely because Android allows carriers to customize phones that it became the most selling OS that quickly.
      I’ve read several stories of carriers’ employees being asked to push Android devices over the iPhone to customers.
      And even now that it’s so popular, it would be hard to change this, cause there are so many different manufacturers… they’d have to all unite in order to do what Apple did, it’s quite impossible.

  3. Verizon wants to keep putting bloatware on their phones.

    1. Carrier bloat can go the way of the Dodo for all I care.

    2. bloatware has nothing to do with UX. VZW Compass and other crap apps don’t affect whether or not MotoBlur is used.

      1. In this case it sounds like they are forcing the use of moto blur which of course causes it be classified as carrier bloatware would you not agree?

  4. Can’t OEM’s make a device with stock android, CDSM antennae, and just sell it on their own? Didn’t Samsung do that with the developer edition of the S3?

    If they did, the carriers wouldn’t have much more leverage. Especially Verizon. With individuals (like myself) who are now forced to purchase a phone outright, I’d rather buy a stock android phone from the company who actually innovated and designed the device, rather than a company that’s sticking it to their customers.

    1. I believe many people there in US still wants to buy subsidized phones, even if that means paying more in the end. The ones who understand the technology enough to understand that are the minority. I buy unlocked, you buy unlocked… most people (in the US) don’t, AFAIK. The solution would be everyone boycotting and demanding uncrapped phones, but we know how likely that is.

      1. Credit culture = “easy” monthly payments.

      2. it would be nearly impossible for me to get a new phone without a subsidy. that said, while i realize it is unrealistic my view on it is that the subsidy only entitles the company to my continued contract, not to let them decide what is on my phone. philosophically speaking i don’t see how unlocked phones with vanilla OS and subsidies are mutually exclusive. once i own the phone then it is mine to take to whatever carrier i choose.

        again, i realize the vast chasm between theory and practice, or in this case between what should be and what is, but that’s how i see it. I have no problem with a 1 or two year contract to get a cheaper price on a phone, but if i choose to change after that contract (or pay the ETF) i want to be able to take my phone with me.

  5. Apple can do it because they dictate the terms. Apple doesn’t “need” any particular carrier, Android OEM’s do, as the article states. If hardware OEM’s would release devices as desirable as Apple, then they could dictate terms and run AOSP. [Note that I am not implying Apple hardware is best, just that it is much more desirable to the populace]. If Android OEM’s would stop saturating the market with feature compromised devices, then they may be able to deal better. Look at Apple, they snubbed Verizon, in 2007, just for these reasons. Now, Apple gives carriers the finger by allowing users to use iMessage, which uses cheaper data or wifi over expensive text costs. Google and OEM’s could do more, they have the talent and the money, so blaming most of it on carriers is a bit of a cop-out. Google/OEM’s, stop being pushed around by carriers! Throw your weight around FFS! Better yet, Google, build your own cellular network and stop pointing fingers.

    1. Funny that Google had this idea where they would sell phones from all manufacturers @ google.com/phone. Then they decided it was unsuccessful and stopped (after only selling their own Nexus One device). Now they sell their own Nexus devices in the Play Store. I wonder if there is room for devices outside the Nexus brand on Play Store?

  6. Why not just make the skin and/or bloat like a secondary launcher? Then the user can decide what he or she wants, and the carriers are happy, too…oh, wait, the user only knows what he or she wants when the carrier tells them…ok, nevermind, I don’t know what I was thinking. >.<

  7. Then stop giving exclusive devices to Verizon! As soon as the contact ends between Motorola and Verizon, end it or have it in Motorola’s terms… Easier said than done.

    1. Sounds good in theory but other carriers have commitments to other devices. They usually go for stupid devices that run WindowsOS or BlackBerry. This is why I advocate more premium devices. Stop flooding the market with 10 Android devices, per carrier, per quarter. The GalaxyNexus was the closest device, to being perfect, that I have ever considered, using Android. Every Android device I look at seems so amazing until you check out their actual performance. The GS3 is very nice but is skinned and just doesn’t seem premium to me. The only Android I would buy now is a S4 Pro, 2GB RAM, 64GB storage and a camera that can hold its own against an iPhone. As much as I wanted to love the LG “G”, Kellex managed to crack the back and not even know how he did it. “Buy a case” is not a solution, it’s an ignorant statement. Someone, make a damn device that is 100% premium, stop crippling your devices with piss-poor cameras, poor build quality and skins that lag.

      1. That’s true, such as Sprint and the HTC Evo line, but for Motorola to openly say that stock Android OS is best, and that Verizon is stopping them from changing their Blur UI surprises me… Why continue to be exclusive to Verizon if they hold the company as a whole back?

        Btw, you just named the dream Android phone that anyone would want… and it will eventually come to that..until the Tegra 4 chips comes out, and phones start to have 3GB of RAM… What I’m saying is that manufacturers will try to make Android phones better than the competition. Wait until next year..rumors will most likely come out with beast phones…

        1. Motorola is in a bad situation, VZW is pretty much the only carrier that has any Motorola devices, I’m guessing someone at Moto thought it would be cool to be essentially exclusive to a company before realizing it was a huge limiting factor, Moto essentially is stuck designing phones for VZW and not the other way around, and yes I know ATT sells the Atrix, but all their premium handsets are sold almost exclusively through VZW

        2. 4 GB. :)

        3. Someone mentioned the idea of treating these smartphones as computers. I actually liked that idea. Here is my spin on it, or addition to the idea. OEM’s make these devices and negotiate with carriers for whatever crap-ware they want to add but… in order for them to sell to carriers, the devices must be unlocked and unencrypted. Just like a PC, if you don’t roll your own, you can format your OEM PC and install any vanilla OS you want. In this case, Android AOSP, etc. Average consumers won’t do this, so carriers shouldn’t complain much. Now, this is much like the American Income Tax Theory. They cannot arrest us all if we don’t pay, right? So, OEM’s tell the carriers that they won’t sell to them unless they allow this. However, this never works in practice. Like taxes, some pay anyway. So, say HTC and Motorola tells Verizon NO, we won’t sell unless our terms are met… Samsung and LG sneak in. Like I said earlier, I say Moto/Google are more to blame than this article suggests. If Google and it’s OEM partners drew a line in the sand, I can promise that no one would turn the other cheek and buy a Windows phone. Hardware and Software companies hold the cards here, not the other way around. Lets see Verizon start making their own phones, ha!

      2. Amen to that brother!

      3. You must not own a GS3, touch wiz has great features and is really smooth. I hate when stupid people make ignorant comments based on their own bias. Much better than Motorolas crappy Blur. If you don’t like the quality on phones you can spend a few million dollars on R&D and create your own you fucking baby

        1. The Galaxy Nexus is better than the S3. Screw touch wiz, I hate this crayola crap. It’s ugly and ghetto.

    2. But Verizon exclusivity also means WAY faster updates from Motorola. I can deal with a near-stock UI for that aspect alone.

      1. People still complaining. Moto’s ICS it is better or close to the one on the Galaxy nexus when it had ICS. Motorola has more nicer features like smart actions etc. The only software that it is better right now it is stock Jb because of its smoothness.

        1. you equal on crack

          1. Damm are you still crying? You must be high right now lol

      2. Bionic sure is getting a speedy ICS update eh?

  8. Google shouldn’t be asking Verizon for UI advice. They should be asking the user

    1. I do agree, but why people love Stock so much? I feel the software on the new moto blur it is as good or even better than stock ICS. Do you agree?

      1. I have never owned a Motoblur device, but I do agree with you. I have CM10 on my GS3 and there are quite a few features of Touchwiz that I miss. Almost to the point where I want to go back to Touchwiz, but I’ll miss JB to much..its a lose lose for me lol.

        1. I can tell you that that both are nice. I love my Nexus 7 with JB and how fast it is, but Motoblur close to stock it is more excite it with more features as well. I love the new circle widgets on the new blur and no other manufactures have smart actions :)

      2. People love stock so much because it ALWAYS results in MUCH MUCH faster updates. (nearly a year in some cases).
        The advantages that have come from Android updates VASTLY outweigh any advantages to Blur/TWiz/Sense/etc…

        Trying to keep it “close to stock” isn’t going to do consumers any good unless that also means Android updates come MUCH faster.

        1. I am agreeing with you, but we need to remember that Motorola put fast updates to the flashy devices. They only problem that they had was that they were releasing a lot of devices in a short period of time.

        2. I am agreeing with you, but remember that Motorola is own by Google. Google may release all their Motorola devices with the latest operating system and not call it Nexus like they did with the Xoom and the droid. That will work for me. I like some of the Motorola blur features.

  9. who is your customer moto? Verizon or the people that use your phones? you continue to lose market share doing what verizon wants, using all your resources customizing the OS for one proprietary US cell company and do not properly support the rest of the world.

    I love moto build quality, but can’t stand why you don’t update your phones and lock the phones so anybody can. And the story repeats since the first Milestone, being the Atrix the last victim…

    1. Actually the carrier is the main customer who in turn sells us the phone at a subsidized price, you and I may buy one phone but carriers buy potentially millions of handsets, think how many of us would upgrade often if we had to shell out 600-700 every upgrade and still pay the current carrier service prices, I for one would probably have a feature phone and not a smartphone.

      1. The carrier buys in bulk as you rightly said “potentially millions” so they are getting the phone also at a subsidized price.

  10. You(Googlemoto) wanted to give a PURE Android experience to a Carrier who DOESN’T believe in your product? Why the hell did you give ALL your best devices to Verizon then?? hmm… Somethings not adding up, maybe thats why Moto was bought by El Goog so that this crap could end.

    1. Wonder how long Moto have on that retarded contract they signed with VZW, hopefully not much longer

      1. Doesn’t matter.

        Business is business.

  11. The carriers and their stale old cell phone business model are killing us. Subsidized prices and contracts at inflated rates are a bad deal, not to mention giving the carriers way too much control over what we’re allowed to buy. We’d be so much better off if we as consumers demanded that these devices stop being treated as phones. They’re so much more than that now. The PC business model (buy a computer from Dell, HP, etc. and then pick whatever ISP you want) is much more applicable to modern devices than the old cell phone business model. And it would be way better for consumers.

  12. Verizon Wireless is such a garbage carrier. I’d love to go back to AT&T or others to get something like the Galaxy Nexus HSPA+, however VZW is the only signal I have at my NYC office. I have no doubt what Motorola is saying is true, and that VZW may even ruin the next Nexus.

    That been said, if Apple can make an unbranded phone supported by the manufacturer and without bloatware, SO CAN GOOGLE.

  13. Why do mobile carriers have more influence over our mobile operating systems than our internet service providers do over our desktop operating systems?

    1. …because you don’t generally buy a computer from your ISP. The Cellular companies are putting their brands on these devises. If you were going to sign your name to something, wouldn’t you want to have some control over it?

    2. personally I think that it’s because the mobile phone is/was seen as a fashion accessory where as the pc is seen as a investment – then came the smartphone & big pricing which ultimately (here in the UK anyway) nobody has ever had to actually pay for. In UK the phones are FREE (the contract is how they make the money back – the highest spec & most recent device is more money per month) So here we don’t go out to buy a top end device we go get ourselves a contract. As opposed to we go get ourselves a new laptop & then we set up a contract with ISP.

  14. Verizon needs to just stay out of the cellphone business and only sale airtime. No more wireless contracts, just unlocked cell phones bought from our choice of electronic stores. The Carriers job should be providing air time for a decent dollar, that’s it. If they suck at it or over charge they lose customers; simple as that! No more of this greedy big daddy Verizon BS!!!

    1. Customer WINS!

    2. From my understanding, that’s exactly what the UK has had for several years -_-

      1. Pretty much, yeah. Most people still buy a phone on contract, but if the service provider (carrier) p*sses you off too much during that period then most people have the option to go elsewhere – mainly because the UK is so small in comparison to The States, and all service providers have coverage almost everywhere.

  15. Verizon is like a dad who thinks he knows what’s best for you but is really actually out of touch.

    1. Exactly, and the other carriers are too, but to lesser degrees.

      1. I have to say that T-Mobile is the one who gets us the most to be honest.

        1. yes they do, BYOP, couldn’t be easier, or a better way to draw in new customers.

  16. Say forget Verizon. once they see how they sell, they will want them

  17. US carriers ruin everything.

  18. Dont they realize that having a completely stock android experience is an “edge”?

  19. Let’s see your ugly mug then! Some of us actually enjoy our privacy. Vanity is not a requisite for producing good reviews. You must have upped your own comment because you are basically calling everyone here “gays”. Congrats on failing at life :)

    1. I can see that my comment made you cry badly lol. You are putting nonsense so are the others. I hate stupidity. You need to learn about technology before yo u start posting crap in it. Go back to Arkansas hick

  20. verizon knows better than there customers…duh didnt they prove that with isis in lieu of google wallet….errrr

  21. $12.50? Hell, I would have bought Motorola if I knew they were going that cheap ;-)

  22. Sounds like Motorola understand their customers but Verizon are completely clueless. Customisation to the Android UI only appear to delay Android OS updates to phones (and sometimes even prevent them from coming at all). If I was a Verizon customer, I would be moving as soon as I could to a carrier that does get it or I’d be buying SIM free to remove all ties.

  23. Total bull. If this were truly the case then Moto would release handsets with stock Android everywhere else in the world, where carriers compete on service/price and not customised software. But they don’t.

    1. I agree. They haven’t put out a stock android phone since the OG Droid, and they have a bunch of phones on a bunch of carriers. I want to know if Motorola specifically called out Verizon or if the author on The Verge is taking the liberty of blaming Verizon only.

  24. ugh. it makes no sense. the carriers need to make apps that I can download, or even make a launcher that is exclusive to your customers that they can download, but don’t force customers to use something they might not want.

    it’s so simple, yet they are so lost.

  25. Every time I pick up my wife’s Razr it makes me want to smash it with a rock. There is SO MUCH crapware on that thing it would drive me batty. She constantly has ‘updates’ waiting for 8-10 pieces of crapware that she would never ever use, and most of it is Verizon crap. I’m so happy my Nexus doesn’t have all that garbage.

  26. “why the company just wont give the people what they want, and release a
    completely stock Android experience in all their devices.”

    Again with this. Are the “the people” the few users who hang out on Android blogs, or are “the people” the millions of users who bought Motorola phones and are happy with them. All the non-geeks I know with Motorolas love their phones and generally like Blur. All the geeks I know hate it. Ratio of geeks to regulars? Conservatively, 1:50. Which makes more business sense, please the many or the few? In marketing as in Star Trek, “the wants of the many outweighs the wants of the few.”

  27. Verizon is WRECKING MY LIFE!

  28. Only thing I can say what Verizon did for moto is advertise the hell out of the Droid line

  29. Verizon knew what its partners wanted and told them they could have it.
    They make it sound like they have too but they don’t want to, but they set it all up that way beforehand so they totally are down with ruining Android. TOTALLY

    So cut the crap, Verizon.

  30. The carrier’s wants are the last thing I am concerned about when it comes to my nexus. I mean that literally.

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