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Motorola SVP: Google gives us no 'special treatment'

CNET chats with Motorola Senior Vice President of Product Management Rick Osterloh about Moto's strategy and focus.

Motorola Droid Razr M
Verizon's Motorola Droid Razr M Android handset is all part of Moto's plan to offer a range of premium products.
Sarah Tew/CNET

Google may own Motorola, but when it comes to making and selling phones, the Android smartphone manufacturer says they're on their own.

"We're operating as an independent OEM, so there's a firewall between us and the Android team," Motorola Senior Vice President of Product Management Rick Osterloh told CNET, explaining the sometimes-distant relationship between Motorola and its owner.

"It's very important to the company (Google) that Android remain an open playing field."

One might think that with Motorola in the brand umbrella, a Droid phone would be a shoo-in for Google's next flagship Nexus phone, the first handset to demonstrate a "pure" Android experience for a major operating system update.

Motorola has yet to gain this prestigious position, but HTC got it once (Nexus One) and Samsung nabbed it twice (Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus.)

Motorola would certainly love to issue a Droid Nexus phone or similar, but Osterloh says that his company has to go through the pitching process along with all its usual rivals.

"We will absolutely be one of the people considered the next time Google delivers its Nexus phone...but we're not going to receive special treatment," Osterloh said.

On the other hand, when asked about the Motoblur interface that rides on top of Android, Osterloh indicated a closer alignment with Google's Android vision down the road. "You'll see us get closer and closer to [stock] Android over time," he said.

Focus, focus, focus
In the meantime, Motorola is sticking by a plan outlined in early September when it introduced a trio of new Motorola Droid Razr phones for Verizon -- mainly, releasing a fewer number of premium smartphones throughout the year.

In addition to creating handsets with eye-catching designs like the edgy Razr family, Motorola says it's pouring tremendous engineering effort into battery performance and power management so that phones like its now-legendary Droid Razr Maxx line blow past the competition on a single charge. (Read more: Smartphone battery life: 2 problems, 4 fixes.)

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
Kevlar has many uses on the Motorola Droid Razr family. Sarah Tew/CNET

Morotola's physical design has also earned time under the microscope. The flashy Kevlar backing has practical application beyond even its water-resistant and scratch-deflecting properties.

According to Osterloh, Kevlar can stretch thin, providing a strong housing that doesn't bulk up the phone's thickness. In addition, Osterloh points to Kevlar's RF (radio frequency) permeability, or capability to easily transmit radio signal.

Poor camera quality compared with competing smartphones is one area of weakness that's plagued Motorola smartphones for some time, and is indeed a common CNET complaint that cropped up as recently as our Motorola Droid Razr M experience. "It's something that we're focused on," Osterloh acknowledged.

Motorola isn't sharing sales figures right now, nor a phone release road map. The only surety is Motorola's stated attempt to shore up weakness and turn out premium phones, not all of them at premium prices.

"Under Google," said Osterloh cryptically, "it's going to certainly be a different future."