So far, Google has worked with very few Nexus partners -- HTC, Samsung, Asus and LG. Currently three of them are offering product simultaneously. Will it simply add Motorola to this roster, perhaps together with others? If so, we get back to point No. 1 above -- Motorola's ability to compete on price, quality and doing it on time.
Another Approach: Differentiated Hardware
In June this year, Microsoft justified to the world its entry into the computer hardware business by saying that it wanted to build new forms of hardware that the other Windows computer makers simply weren't doing. If Motorola can't compete on price, perhaps that's the option here as well.
What would be examples of such hardware differentiation? I offer 4 paths, most of them not mutually exclusive:
1. The one area into which Motorola had already waded is bigger batteries, with the Droid Razr Maxx. Given its success and customer satisfaction, Motorola should clearly expand this principle of a much bigger battery to all mobile devices going forward. Sell every smartphone with an integrated 4,000 to 5,000 mAh battery, so that the device lasts two to three days under heavy usage.2. Copy the BlackBerry form factor. Is there anything more obvious than this? Motorola had taken a couple of steps in this direction before, but they were underpowered, had low-resolution screens, were running ancient versions of the Android OS, had horrific battery life, and the keyboards weren't even that great. These are relatively easy fixes, in the big scheme of things. 3. Make every Android pure Nexus. All Motorola Androids should get its software updates directly from Google. This is the only acceptable way for Apple, and Google/Motorola shouldn't accept anything less. It doesn't matter if these devices are actually named "Nexus" or not, as long as this is what it is in practice. But what's the harm in using the excellent Nexus name anyway? 4. Google glasses and other accessories. Someone has to make the new Google eyeglasses that are anticipated to hit the first 8,000 or so beta testers in the first half of 2013. It might as well be Motorola, no? In summary, it's not clear what Motorola Mobility is even capable of delivering in a competitive time-frame, at a competitive cost, anymore. Is there anything Motorola can do that Samsung, LG, HTC, Asus, Acer, Sony (SNE) and others somehow can't engineer faster and cheaper? We had better see some results here soon, or else I will assume that Chicago just isn't a place that's competitive anymore. At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL and GOOG. Follow @antonwahlman This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.