Even though Google owns Motorola it still has to ship custom versions of Android because that is what the carriers want
When Google bought Motorola it was hoped that Google would turn the handset and tablet manufacturer into a shining example of how Android can be used in its stock, unaltered flavor and how a smartphone manufacturer should support its customers in terms of updates and upgrades. However, so far, that hasn’t been true.
A good example is the RAZR M and RAZR HD phones which Motorola distribute via Verizon. These phones don’t ship with Android 4.1, the latest and greatest released version of Android and nor do they come with a pure, unadulterated version. Instead owners of these new phones get Android 4.0 with a Verizon skin and extra Verizon software.
Motorola Senior Vice President, Product Rick Osterloh recently commented on the direction the company is taking in terms of stock Android versions and software upgrades. Here is what he said:
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.
So clearly, and understandably, Motorola needs to ship the device that Verizon wants and since Verizon is Motorola’s biggest advocate then it needs to keep the carrier happy. However one good thing is that Motorola is going to be more active in making updates and upgrades available.