UPDATE: Sony Ericsson also ran a post today explaining how they’re handling Ice Cream Sandwich and Android software updates.

Motorola today on its blog cast more light on the intricacies of engineering Ice Cream Sandwich devices. While much of the post kinda states the obvious, it did imply is that we won’t be seeing Ice Cream Sandwich smartphones from Motorola for some time (disregarding the Droid Razr which we know will be upgradeable to Google’s latest software some time in the first quarter of 2012).

The company explains why the November 14 release of Android Ice Cream Sandwich source code won’t automatically update your device:

Each new version of Android launches with one device partner, in what is called the “Google Experience Device” or GED, the showcase device for a new Android release. The GED partner for each launch works with Google during the development of the OS so that the device and new Android version are ready for a coordinated simultaneous launch.

That much we’ve known. This bit is important (emphasis ours):

We are currently assessing this source code, and over the next month we will be determining which devices will get the upgrade and when  — and we will communicate this as information becomes available. 

On top of that, there may be a two-month preparation cycle to enter a carrier verification phase of one to three months. Color me skeptic, but all this points to a first quarter release of flagship Motorola phones running ICS out of the box. Our two cents: Motorola will make a splash with new ICS hardware at the Mobile World Congress which runs February 27 – March 1 in Spain, Barcelona.

Regarding upgrade path for existing devices, an ICS firmware update will arrive at some point for the Droid Razr and Bionic smartphones and the Xoom and Xoom Family tablets. As for the other handsets they make:

We are planning on upgrading as many of our phones as possible.  The ability to offer the upgrade depends on a number of factors including the hardware/device capabilities, the underlying chipset software support, the ICS support and then the ability to support the Motorola value add software.

Surprisingly, Motorola seems to be content with let these phones out of the gate before thoroughly testing them with users:

We may perform some customer testing before a final release is delivered publicly to our user base. 

Unfortunately, they won’t relent on customization because “Motorola-specific software enhancements”, as they call those, include features such as MotoCast, Smart Actions and “our comprehensive enterprise solutions”. And just to be perfectly clear, those ‘enhancements’ are all “integral parts of our device experiences”.

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