Motorola's Mutricy on the future of Webtop and MotoBLUR

with Alain Mutricy, Motorola Mobility's 
senior vice president for portfolio and device product management

alain mutricityMotorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) is still pushing hard on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, and plans to release a bevy of new Android smartphones and tablets this year. Recently at the CTIA Wireless 2011 trade show, FierceWireless Editor Phil Goldstein sat down with Alain Mutricy, Motorola's senior vice president for portfolio and device product management. Motorola's point man on devices talked about the company's philosophy for mobile computing, how it is using recent software acquisitions, Motorola's ambitions for the enterprise market and how it will differentiate its tablets.     

FierceWireless: Does Motorola feel like it wants to grow or accelerate the number of Android models it shipped in 2010?

Mutricy: We are not measuring our performance by that number. When we had announced this in 2008, the purpose for [Motorola Mobility CEO] Sanjay [Jha] was to explain, one, that we are really going completely on Android. That platform choice was not half a choice. We've made a choice, we've made a decision to do Android. And two, that we were going to play for full use of it, having products in to different market segments and different price tiers, and actually serving multiple regions. That's what we really meant at the time. We were not counting or measuring our performance by the number of product introductions.

FierceWireless: I know Sanjay has said recently he wants to foster in Motorola a much more software-centric culture and have innovation on the software side. Can you talk about that?

Mutricy: We recently acquired a company called Zecter. So you have content in there that is private. We push intelligent information that is relevant to you. We are also enabling you to go access any content, remote content that you have from this phone. You have credentials and security protection to go access content in the cloud. And also with the Zecter acquisition we are offering an application called ZumoCast that enables you [to] go access content on your PC drive or disk drive in your office. That's what we mean by the hub of your digital life.

So we have product offerings that we call smart accessories. ... If you go in the car, you are going to get into settings and whatever. Your phone has to know that your phone is in the car dock and that you are going to drive. So the user interface switches to the car interface. You go home, you put it back in the kitchen, maybe you have it programmed for the kitchen and maybe it's just showing you the calendar and some pictures are going around, and that's what it does. You go back into your home office, and you have an HD dock connected to your HD monitor, but you have a Bluetooth keyboard and a mouse. You dock it here, and it knows it is in the office, and it will launch Webtop, and it is going to be on your browser, and you are ready to do whatever you do in your office. It is extending the capabilities on the phone so that you can respond to your needs at the moment.  

FierceWireless: How do you think what Motorola has started with Webtop is going to evolve? Is it going to become a more fully fleshed out computing experience?

Mutricy:  I have a colleague who was yesterday at a CIO dinner with hundreds of CIOs, and very few of them had a laptop, which probably last year all of them would have had a laptop. This crowd is evolving so fast. Both the corporate and consumer worlds are blending together. When you put that device [the Atrix 4G] with the lapdock in the hands of someone who is doing more casual computing--doing email, Facebook, Internet and managing pictures, which covers a significant-sized segment in the consumer world--this is good enough. And now if you look at more heaving computing, like Microsoft Office, first of all there are new collaboration solutions that are coming out there and are cloud-based.

We have also installed a Citrix client on the Atrix. The vast majority of the top 500 companies in the U.S. have deployed a Citrix desktop virtualization application, and with having direct access with Cirtrix on your lapdock, you are recreating your computer environment in your screen, which enables you to not only run Office applications, but, even more, to run vertical applications that would have been deployed only inside your company or the PC.

I think it's going to evolve. But we are looking at how both consumers and corporations are evolving their computing needs. We are not looking at it like, ‘OK, what is the next thing I need to do to match what the computer is doing today?' Because what people are doing today in six months will be obsolete. It's moving so fast right now that we really are providing a solution that is still at 1.0 implementation but is going to be more fitting to how consumers or prosumers are evolving their way of doing computing. So, it's really mobile computing, it's not based on a laptop comparison. It's based on where we think the industry is heading and where we think the consumer is heading. 

FierceWireless: You obviously have a strong relationship with Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) in terms of the LTE products you are putting out, the Droid Bionic and the Xoom. Do you plan on producing any WiMAX products this year?

Mutricy: We haven't made any announcements about that. 

FierceWireless: Do you think that WiMAX is still a capable technology platform, with all of the uncertainty over what will happen with Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) and Clearwire (NASDAQ:CLWR)?

Mutricy: The relationship we have with Sprint from a historical standpoint is a really good relationship. We've done great business together and we are good in radios. I just don't want to make any comment on whether we like a radio standard or whether we don't like a radio standard or whether we think it's worth investing. It's worth [it] for us [to] invest in continuing to have great relationships with all of our carrier partners, including Sprint.

FierceWireless: To a certain extent, with all of the Android Honeycomb tablets, the user interface is kind of the same, in terms of how you interact with the device. How do you see Motorola's approach to tablets evolving, especially in terms of the customization of the user experience?

Mutricy: We are working on bringing our own differentiation, like we have done on smartphones and will continue to do on smartphones.          

FierceWireless: So can we expect to see MotoBLUR on a tablet?

Mutricy: The conception around MotorBLUR is not the one I would like people to have. MotoBLUR is really bringing new capabilities. In the mind[s] of people, because of the first release we did, MotoBLUR means a UI, which is not the case. The first MotoBLUR was a different UI. You need to think of MotoBLUR as a capability, where were using an engine to push intelligent content to you, to push your private Internet content to you, or to push content related [to] where you are to you. That's more [of] the differentiated approach that we have versus other handset makers that are in this platform. That's one source. I'm not talking about the tablet plans, because I don't want to announce anything, but more about the assets, clarifying what MotoBLUR assets mean. It's a push-Internet service platform.