With this week's launch of the Cliq from Motorola, Google's mobile operating system Android is, for the first time, in the passenger seat instead of the driver's position. While all previous Android devices have focused on the open-source OS, Motorola has taken it for its own and built what it is calling MotoBlur, basically a skin for Android.
This is essentially what Google had wanted for Android when it was first announced. Along with HTC, Google planted the seed with the G1 and subsequent phones and designed and marketed them to showcase the OS. But being open-source allows manufacturers to customize it to take advantage of the hardware it is running on, as well as design applications to help the device stand out; in this case, MotoBlur.
MotoBlur seems to be all about communication and social networking, currently two big topics, and where Motorola chose to direct its marketing focus. Yes, it's an Android phone, but that's not the selling point this time; it is just a technical fact.
As there is no longer one true Linux, but a slew of what are called "distros," it looks like Android is destined to follow suit. Sure, Google will always be associated with any device that is running it, but now that Android is starting to take steps towards maturity, it is time for the company to lovingly take a step back and watch it grow.
If other manufacturers follow Motorola's lead, Android will help change the face of mobile devices -- exactly as Google had hoped it would.
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