The latest big news on Android is Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s Mobility group.
And I have to say, I wasn’t expecting that one.
The main arguments floating around on the acquisition are:
- Patent play, driven by the patent war including the recent Nortel patent acquisition by Google’ competitors
- Hardware play, which better positions Google against Apple
- It is a patent play
- TBD is the impact of this on Google/Android partners — this is huge with respect to Android partners, creates a love-hate relationship, and definitely will have a negative impact on their partners, their growth, their confidence, and as a consequence, will affect Android’s growth; it is the way things work. While Android’s global growth was leveraging big manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung, now, unless some kind of awesome agreement is done with the partners (see last bullet), Android’s success has now reverted mainly onto Google’s shoulders
- Google must to decide very fast what they want to be: a SW or HW-or both kind of company
- Google *must* keep the IP for the patent wars, and spinoff Motorola as a subsidiary — running a HW company is just a different kind of beast.
- While maintaining ownership of the new IP, Google shall give royalty-free access of the Motorola patent portfolio to Open Handset Alliance (OHA). This will 1) provide incentives to existing OHA partners, 2) provide incentives for new partners to join OHA, and 3) allow OHA and Android to continue its growth path and benefits to OHA partners
Pretty unexpected, but very interesting move by Google indeed. We are witnessing a major reshape of the mobile industry from software to hardware; from Nokia and Microsoft, to Goggle, Motorola, the impact on APAC-based device manufacturers, the operators, Apple, and so on.
This counter-offensive by Google will or should help battle the potential new costs to consumers due to patents wars. As a side note, now imagine how much innovation (and quality of innovation) would be possible if instead of having to spend so much cash on patents, instead it is invested on people, their research-and-ideas, and thus true innovation.
Update Aug 16, 1:30pm: Android partners “welcome” Google’s Motorola Mobility buy (VentureBeat). Very interesting to see Android partners are welcoming this. Maybe they were consulted? (unlikely). But it means that today they see the ROI and are so committed to Android that as long as Android itself is less risky (due to more IP protection), then they are OK with some competition. And/or maybe they don’t see Motorola itself as a real threat. If the latter changes where Motorola becomes a threat, we obviously will see a change of heart.
Update Aug 16, 2:30pm: Google: We Bought Motorola To “Protect” The Android Ecosystem (Business Insider)
Update Aug 22: Android vs Windows Phone 7: At least one handset maker thinking about it (GigaOM)