Speaking at Motorola’s third quarter financials presentation on Thursday afternoon, co-CEO, Sanjay Jha, revealed the ailing company’s handset plans to be a long term game.

At present, Moto’s handset business is a rat’s nest of platforms. The company has over 20 different combinations of operating system, silicon and user interface (UI), and Jha’s job is to streamline this.

As a result, Motorola is to stop developing the bulk of its own operating systems. It will bin Symbian UIQ and its internally developed Linux and Java platforms, including MotoMAGX, and is also to pay out $150m to escape a lock in deal with its own chip-shop-spin-off, Freescale, so it can rely more on Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

The US firm will now focus on just three handset platforms – Android, Windows Mobile, and its own proprietary OS, P2K, which is used on devices such as the RAZR.

This means Motorola’s portfolio will shift to the higher end of the handset tier, although the company is gambling that over the next few years, the Android and Windows Mobile platforms will filter down through the mid-level so it can still address the mass market.

Jha said the company’s first Android handset will be out by Christmas 2009, with Windows providing support for its mid-range portfolio towards the second half of next year.

When questioned, Jha admitted that the strategy will reduce the number of phones that Moto will launch, and may also mean the company loses yet more market share early next year. “We are reducing investment in platform development to focus on innovation,” he said, “This should save $600m in 2009.”

The new strategy also means Moto’s main focus will be on North America, Latin America and parts of Asia. “We won’t address every geography equally,” Jha said.

In related news, Taiwanese PC maker Asus is rumoured to be incubating an Android-based gadget, to add to its existing Windows Mobile smartphone portfolio. And word has it that open source mobile phone developer OpenMoko also has designs on the Google born operating system, possibly running on something resembling the FreeRunner handset.

The first Android handset, the G1, went on sale in the UK on T-Mobile’s network Thursday morning.