AT&T and Motorola – Friends or Foes?

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While rumors of the new Motorola Flipout for AT&T are floating around, I’ve been thinking about all the different Android devices in play now, specifically of the Motorola variety. When you hear Motorola, you likely think immediately of the Droid. Whether the original Droid, the Droid X, the Droid 2, or the Milestone, this line is arguably the best Motorola has ever produced. Why is it then, that AT&T is getting scraps?

At first glance one might assume that it is AT&T’s love affair with the iPhone that has kept Android phones at bay. This is entirely possible. There have been arguments that AT&T has intentionally offered crippled devices in order to keep sales of the iPhone going strong. At first this seemed plausible. First there was the promise of five Android phones by the first half of 2010. It failed to keep that promise. The Motorola Backflip was launched first, to muted fanfare. Nobody really liked the “unique form factor.”

Next came the Aria, which came as a surprise to a number of AT&T’s employees. The Aria is a great little phone with a major problem – it shatters with little effort. Next announced was the Dell Aero, but it went MIA for a while. The Samsung Captivate was the first sign that AT&T was starting to respect Android. The Xperia X10 further supported this notion. Dell launched the Streak and Aero on its own site, though both phones are only usable on AT&T in the US. This brings us to the Flipout.

The Flipout does what it says. It goes from a square shape to a more rectangular shape when you flip it out. If the Backflip failed to excite fans, I don’t expect much from this phone. This now makes one wonder who’s fault these lackluster Motorola phones are. Is it AT&T’s short-sightedness striking again? Is Motorola intentionally giving the B squad phones to AT&T? We’ve seen the Droid. We know what Motorola can do. The Backflip and Flipout are poor examples of a Motorola phone.

Whatever the reason, AT&T fans are still waiting for a decent Motorola phone. In the mean time they have the Captivate, Xperia X10, and Blackberry Torch to occupy their time. I’m inclined to believe that AT&T is mostly responsible for the missing Droids, but it is purely speculation at this point. I’ve stopped giving AT&T the benefit of the doubt.

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