Motorola, which has built a successful business around its Android-based smartphones, is interested in developing phones based on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system.
"We're completely open to Windows as a platform," said Motorola chief executive Sanjay Jha, speaking at the Oppenheimer Technology & Communications Conference in Boston Tuesday.
But he added that Motorola would be closely following Windows 7's growth to see whether it will be a viable competitor.
A decision by Motorola to develop a Windows Phone 7-based product would be a major boost for Microsoft, which has struggled to gain a solid foothold in the mobile operating system market.
Last week market researcher ComScore reported that only 5.8 percent of all smartphone subscribers used devices powered by Microsoft software in the three months ended June 30, down from 7.5 percent in the three-month period ended March 31.
Motorola has been successful with its Android-based lines of smartphones, including the Droid 3 and Droid X2. And Jha, who's comments were streamed on Motorola's Website, was careful to emphasize that his company will continue to focus its smartphone efforts around that software for the moment.
Jha said Apple iOS and Android have solidified their positions as the two leading mobile software platforms, but he saw room for at least a third player to emerge among the current also-rans, including Windows Phone, Hewlett-Packard's WebOS and Research in Motion's BlackBerry.
Jha expressed interest in doing a deal with Microsoft that's "somewhat equivalent" to the alliance Microsoft has struck with Nokia. That handset maker is currently developing a line of Windows-based smartphones for availability either later this year or sometime in 2012.
But that deal also includes payments of several billion dollars by Microsoft to Nokia to develop and promote the Windows Phone 7-based products. Whether Microsoft would consider a similar deal with Motorola is not yet clear.