Here’s Why Motorola Bet on Android

37875The estimate that Verizon (s vz) sold 100,000 Droid phones this weekend as part of the Droid onslaught is pretty sweet for Motorola, as is the assumption from Mark McKechnie with Broadpoint AmTech that the cellular provider purchased 200,000 of the handsets from Motorola (s mot) in anticipation of high demand. But the more interesting part of his research note wasn’t the past — it’s the future, namely that he thinks Motorola’s handset business should return to an operating profit next year on the strength of co-CEO’ Sanjay’s Jha’s bet on the Android operating system. From the analyst note:

We estimate each Android unit contributes 4x the gross profit of a feature phone unit and that 10 million Android units will contribute nearly half of the gross profits in MOT’s handset division.

And that profit boost is why Jha is betting on Android — and why the bet must succeed. Motorola doesn’t have any more aces, and consolidation is a real threat for the handset industry. After watching Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone and devices from Research In Motion (s rimm) steal profits from the handset industry, Jha hopes Android offers the winning hand that Motorola needs in order to take some of those profits back.