Motorola Dumps Webtop App
October 8, 2012

Google’s Motorola Kills Webtop

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Some combos sound like such a great idea that it´s hard to imagine how they could fail. Like the Folk-Rock outfit Fiction Family, (a collaboration between Nickel Creek´s Sean Watkins and Switchfoot´s Jon Foreman) the sum of the parts have to result in a great product, right?

When the Motorola Atrix 4G was introduced during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, many thought the company had finally landed on one such infallible combo. Running Android 2.2 on a dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM, the Atrix 4G had more than one trick up its sleeve: it could also be docked into a compatible laptop, turning the device you carry around in your pocket into the brains behind a tiny, netbook-like laptop.

What a great idea, no? For all those times when people on the go needed to do something which was too large for a phone but too small for their laptops, they could simply dock their phone, not have to worry about transferring files from one device to the next, and just take care of business.

However, just like Fiction Family, the resulting product was a disappointment, a product so much less than the sum of its parts that you had to wonder how something which sounded so miraculous could fail.

Motorola has admitted defeat today on this front, killing off Webtop, the app used to dock the smartphone into its special, proprietary laptop accessory.

According to CNET, Google´s Motorola has said not enough people have been swayed by this great concept, resulting in poor adoption and even worse sales. As such, they´re killing the concept to put more wood behind fewer arrows, so to speak, such as the entire Droid Razr line as well as their Photon Q.

“Motorola's Webtop app helps users extend their smartphone experience to larger screens,” reads Motorola´s announcement.

“While consumers around the world have adopted Webtop and the concept spurred a lot of innovation in the industry, the adoption has not been strong enough to justify continued resources being allocated to developing Webtop on future devices. We have also seen development of the Android operating system focus on the inclusion of more desktoplike features.”

As was the case with Fiction Family, the implementation of Webtop is what could have ultimately killed this otherwise great idea.

The notion of being able to plug a phone into a laptop dock had real promise, but according to some tech reviews, this experience was not always a pleasant or reliable one.

“Putting aside our complaints about the Webtop environment,” writes Joshua Topolsky in his February 2011 review, “the laptop dock creates some pretty major issues of its own.”

As for the Webtop environment, Topolsky called it a “sluggish, somewhat sloppy experience that's difficult to enjoy.”

“We love the idea... but the execution leaves much to be desired.”

Sascha Segan and Jamie Lendino of PC Magazine agreed, taking marks from the Atrix 4G´s generally high score for an overall buggy experience when using Webtop with the dock.

The final blow to this concept was the price of the laptop dock. At $500, (or $300 if you signed up for a $20 a month data plan through AT&T) it´s likely many customers failed to see why they should buy an accessory which couldn´t run without the phone rather than buy a fully functional, more powerful laptop for the same price.

Goodbye, Webtop: You were a great idea, but ultimately killed by sloppy implementation and greedy carriers.

As an aside, Fiction Family, as it turns out, has yet to suffer a similar fate and is currently working on a new album.