Supposedly, Motorola Mobility is going to “supercharge the Android ecosystem.” (Google’s CEO Larry Page noted in his blog that “….we are always looking for new ways to supercharge the Android ecosystem.”) Such statements beg the inevitable question: “Oh, really? How?”
But it’s possible. Given the growing mutations in Android implementation throughout the world, Google may indeed need to better understand the hardware involved. Motorola Mobility could help.
But I think the truth is elsewhere, as EE Times' Rick Merritt pointed out.
Analysts were quick to point out, this could be a pure IP play on the part of a Google that wants to amass more mobile-related IPs from Motorola.
My question, though, is whether and how effectively it (strengthening Google’s patent portfolio) will enable Google “to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” as Google’s CEO noted.
Certainly, Page isn’t just imagining the intensifying patent battle in the mobile world. The threat is real. Escalating lawsuit activity against Android-based handsets and tablets in recent months could shake the very foundation of Google’s promise for Android’s royalty-free appeal.
Google’s Android operating system has recently come under fire. Apple and Microsoft have taken Android device makers like HTC, Samsung and Motorola to court.
Of course, Motorola and Apple have squared off in courtrooms before. Most recently, Apple attempted to bar the sale of the Motorola Xoom tablet in Europe, as Apple had already done with Samsung’s Galazy Tab 10.1.
Last fall, it was Motorola who accused first Apple of violating 18 patents related to a range of technologies, including 3G, GPRS, 802.11 wireless and antenna design. While Motorola struggled in its efforts to license its patented technology to Apple, Apple countersued Motorola, for violation of patents related to multi-touch features in the iPhone.
But if Google’s planned acquisition is purely motivated by legal protection for Android, in my opinion, it’s sort of a downer… Yes, you could call this a “noble” act. But the strongest likelihood, as I see it, is a long, drawn-out litigation marathon among handset vendors, spending less time on any possible innovations in next-generation mobile handsets and tablets.
Don’t get me wrong. I know how critical Google’s move must be for the future of Android.
But there are no assurances that Google can fend off every lawsuit from Apple and Microsoft, just because Google has cornered all the seemingly essential mobile patents from Motorola Mobility.
More important, how much of Motorola’s patent portfolio is Google willing to place in the public domain in order to protect the future of Android? Wouldn’t Motorola Mobility be better off suing others (including other Android handset vendors) who may be infringing Motorola’s patents?
While explaining Google’s Motorola Mobility acquisition as Google’s ambition to become another Apple seems like a tired theme, it sure beats Google’s legal play. Imagine what Google can do. The search engine giant could build its own mobile empire (a la Apple), going head-to- head with just everyone on the market – including fellow Android-based handset vendors.
While that may not be “the right thing to do” if Google wants to continue to play the role of “technology brain” behind Android, it may be the most logical commercial gain from acquiring Motorola Mobility.
You say you lead the open-source community. And yet, you also have your own hardware division, whose mission is to differentiate its products from others. You can’t have it both ways.
But I do believe that quick notes sent out by Gary Mobley, senior analyst, semiconductors & related Technologies at Benchmark, a financial firm, were off-base. Mobley noted as a punch line in his research note: “With Google buying Motorola Mobility, investors may be concerned that the Android operating system will not be as open as it has been, and as a result, the potential pool of mobile application processor licensees for MIPS and ARM may shrink.”
I agree with Mobley that Android OS might never be so open again. But that shouldn’t have much impact on chip suppliers. Chip vendors thrive on developing solutions required by handset vendors. The broad acceptance that Android has received thus far from a growing number of handset vendors will dissuade most chip vendors from defecting or retreating from Android-based handsets. In contrast, the role of chip suppliers could become even more important, should Android-based handset vendors decide to go up against Motorola’s handsets.
If Google were to choose to "build its own mobile empire" and got head-to-head with everyone, why is that not the right thing to do?
If it maximizes revenue and profit growth for Google in the long term, a shareholder would say it is precisely the right thing to do.
I totally agree with you, Frank.
And yet, that is going to upset every dick and harry in the Android-based handset/tablet business -- for sure.
Those who jumped on the Android bandwagon early on will feel as though they are now destined to play the second fiddle to Motorola Mobility.
You may say that it's a business decision. True. But if Google gets into its own hardware business, Google is in a sense screwing everyone. Google knows that it won't sit well with its own "do-no-evil" company motto.
I am not sure Google need to go head to head with Apple although it's another possible explanation of their decision to acquire Motorola Mobility. I do not think Google shareholders would be very happy with such change of focus. Apple has been there and done it, it's their bread and butter. Google would be going into a new territory. Moreover, why would Google go head to head with Apple while they can leverage the combined power of many companies (Samsung, HTC etc.) to do so?? Neah, it does not make sense to me.... The patent issue is the most convincing reason, not that it is a wise course of action anyway. Poor decision IMHO.
If Google's smart, and I have no doubt they are, they will run Motorola as an independent business unit. I've worked in the automotive industry for a while, and one of GM's owned parts manufacturers (several actually) was successfully selling parts to Toyota, Bosch, Nissan, Ford and others, and no one could question how competitive the automotive market was in the 90's. I trust Google to do that well. I don't trust exclusionists like Apple and Microsoft to do that, because they have a business model that is based on first rate legal protection of second rate ideas. I won't elaborate here, but there are countless examples of serious flaws in Apple and MS products that don't get addressed because they have the market power. Think about it, IE was made free to put Netscape out of business. The list goes on.
Google is continuously getting more and more alone and enemy to partners in pursuit of expanding its empire. Indeed from business stand point they need such thing to counter Apple. But Android community will be severely disturbed (esp. small players). Microsoft has a new opportunity door opened, but they also have close tie-up now with Nokia. It will be interesting to see how Samsung will respond to new threats. Following Apple, It seems each giant now wants to own Software+Hardware in different scenarios :)
If you are right, and I hope you are not then Google will have removed their competitive advantage. It is a seriously flawed assumption that you can get market share much above 90% in any market without acquisitions. Beyond 95% you become so out of touch with your user base that any upstart will nibble at your heels. Basically what I'm saying is that Google can't grow dollars in a market where they have 90% penetration so they need to look at others. If they try to pass the 90% barrier they will undermine themselves and become a victim of their success. Look a MS, they held 95% for a while and for the last 10 years have gone into the business of alienating their user base. It's inevitable unless you tap a different market. Maybe this is what Google is doing, anything else is suicide.
You are right, Infect almost all big companies one day face that situation on their climax and need to diversify (internally or by acquisition) intelligently before too late (usually is!). If you r referring to my first sentence, i explained the state of happening, not good/evil. Google is as evil as any other giant and will do anything to keep them giant/become even bigger giant:)
Since everything posted is speculation, what if Google didn't buy Motorola Mobility primarily for the handset market. Let's say they bought them for the set top box market. Google recently acquired SageTV and the Motorola products mesh perfectly between them.
I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case, but if it was then alot of the competition will be running to catch up (with their pants around their ankles) while they've been distracted by the smartphone talk.
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