In his January earnings call, Google CEO Larry Page complained that our phones died too quickly and broke too easily. On Google’s next quarterly earnings call today, he cited the same concerns and said new products being cooked up at Motorola Mobility would address them. Google acquired for $12.5 billion last May (see “What Ideas Does Google Have Brewing at Motorola?”).
“Having just seen Motorola’s upcoming products myself, I’m really excited about the potential there,” he said on the call, after talking about his frustrations. If Motorola can sell a high-functioning Android phone that really pushes the needle forward on both those fronts, it would be an exciting development indeed.
What technologies could pull this off? One possiblity is that the phone will contain manufactured sapphire rather than the standard Corning Gorilla Glass that forms the outer layer of the display on many devices today (see “Your Next Smartphone Screen May Be Made of Sapphire”). Sapphire is harder than any other material except a diamond and would make a display much harder to crack or scratch. The costs of making such a display are coming down and a display that contains even a thin layer of the material could be feasible this year. Improved battery life could come more simply, as the result of buying the next generation of smartphone chips that consume less battery power, such as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800 processors expected to ship mid-year.
Rumors about the specifications of a device that has been dubbed Google’s X-Phone support both these thoughts, but those rumors are, again, just that. However, by talking about these issues twice now in a very prominent forum, Page is committing himself to delivering something better. Personally, I’m so frustrated with my Android phone’s battery life and the spiderweb cracks across its screen that, at this point, I would pretty much buy any phone that offered serious improvements. I doubt I’m alone, and Page likely knows it.