Game Changer: Google Acquires Motorola Mobility

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The mobile industry is so volatile and dynamic that every now and then a player throws in something that changes the playing field. That is exactly what Google has done with the acquisition of smartphone vendor Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

Ladies and gentlemen, this changes everything. Again.

Here is an excerpt from Larry Page’s announcement on the official Google blog:

This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.

The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences.

Finally, Google joins the exclusive club of companies who control both the software and hardware ends of their mobile products. Others include Apple (iOS), RIM (Blackberry), Samsung (Bada), and HP (WebOS). Nokia, who have been a part of this club till date with Symbian, are actually exiting the club with their dumping of Symbian and Meego in favour of WindowsPhone.

Questions

Did Nokia make the right choice letting go of control of the software end?

How will the other Android licensees respond? HTC? Samsung? LG? Sony Ericsson?

If this is the future, and I suspect that it is to a large extent, then perhaps we should actually be looking forward to a Microsoft acquisition of Nokia someday? Blasphemy? Perhaps. But like Nokia is, Motorola was once the world’s largest mobile vendor. Who would have thought that they would one day end up in Google’s pockets?

In the meantime, Android is the only one of those mobile platform in which the developer now has hardware control as well as licensees. All other things being equal, this should mean better days for the Android OS – if the other licensees don’t panic and start looking elsewhere. And who would blame them if they did that?

I’m still reeling from the shock of this news. Help me, someone!

Read the official statement: Supercharging Android: Google to Acquire Motorola Mobility

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10 comments

  1. My first thought was: YES!!

    This is because Motorola makes tough, rugged smartphones, but they’re ship them with locked bootloaders, and are always late with android updates.

    I hope this deal will bring better smartphones to us.

  2. Now come on Elop: Microsoft’s mole in Nokia. Google has beaten you to it so when are you going to put the final nail in Nokia’s coffin by selling Nokia off to Microsoft????????????????????????????????.

  3. It amuses me that nobody saw this coming.

    Times have changed, who will ever believe that a Bloody Advertising Company will takeover a Mobile phone Company. But Google has gone beyond just adverts they are now taking over the world.

    If there is anything we love about the Nexus Android range its because of the Pure Android. So am sure people all over the world will be dead happy because to a large extent and if not absolutely, we are sure Motoblur is gone for good or will become optional.

    Answers to Qs.
    In my opinion Nokia made the wrong choice and they made it early. But what comes to mind is that certainly Microsoft will soon just buy Nokia Mobile.

    The other Android guys should not worry unless they have stubborn skins disturbing great Android experience. But come to think about it, where will they go, to WP7.

    WP7 and Android now have something in common.

    Now, whats our hope in Nigeria. Its been long I saw anything Motorola in the Shelves.

  4. nokia still has meego to turn to, all they have to do is make sure the N9 is well received by buyers and hope the developers make attractive apps that would help the future versions.

    But that’s just wishful thinking the battle of the future lies in ecosystems, even Nokia knows that and tried that with Ovi, which had a picture share capacity, contact sync, calendar, IM client etc, but that attempt failed miserably.

    The future just might lie with microsoft which comes with a stand reputation and multiple device type ecosystem.

  5. I’m amazed at this acquisition! I thought Google would simply buy a company with loads of patents, like interdigital. Never thot they would purchase a hardware company.

    But there’s a lot of sense to it though. I think this purchases supports Google’s new focus on mobile and local. Motorola manufactures mobile phones and TV setup boxes which wil in the future be powered by Googles android ie Google TV and Android mobile. Google will also include NFC chips in Motorola phones a Google wallet will be the default payment method on it.

    But i wonder how android partners would react to this? I believe this changes the field of competition and gives Google more leverage over android. If Microsoft buys Nokia then OEMs will be forced to use Android and still customize it. But if Microsoft doesn’t buy Nokia i think other OEMs will give WP7 more thought

  6. It is sad the way the cookie crumbles.I am begining to get scared that nokia might get sunk the same way with mr. Elop incharge. N9 would have leverage nokia with the cloud it has already formed waiting to rain, but for Elop’s bent on wp7, the trojan horse shall do anything to kill the Meego darling device.

    As it is,the mobile world is in a confussed state.What shall be the faith of sammy,Lg,HTc etc Perhap Lg and sammy might resort to Meego….Already samsung has made a notebook N100 with Meego os and LG also promised to make Meego devices.So if nokia could not sense it, may be others could…..

  7. Drama everyday! When will all this end? Well i guess its a never-ending intrigue in the mobile world anyway….should nokia get their WP7 phones right…they have a real strong chance…getting is right is puttin top hardware in d flagships and making sure the mid range is well caterred for!

  8. Over the weekend I complained about the patent suits against android from competitors, especially apple on one of our threads here. Never knew google had their plans all set out. the only major reason for this buy over is patent acquisition. Motorola is a communication giant with over 80 years in the business. They have garnered one of the largest chunk of intellectual property rights over this period. That is the juicy part for google in this deal. they have stronger muscle with which to protect android against its competitors. The days of android playing the seating duck is over.

    The justice department in the us had to wade in to the Nortel auction sale recently as it smells of anti-competitive tendencies and may affect innovation. following the explosion of android, microsoft and apple have been using patent suits to reduce android distribution and also jack up its cost. I am sure they didn’t see this coming. The more pronounced effects of this acquisition will take a while and will be beneficial to innovation and consumer choice.
    Today, I am proud to be an android user.

  9. I for one am in favor of patent licensing. If have to use what I spent hours and money to produce, and then sell something with it for money then you should also pay me for using it too. These OEM’s should all just come together and have a nice chat and iron out the patent issue. And also Google should also pay up, there isn’t any thing as a free meal. Google makes money off Android so they should pay their competitors wants due to them. These talk of “stifling innovation is just crazy”, not paying up for using someone else’s intellectual property would kill off innovation, I mean why would anyone invest their time and money in carrying out research when people can just come answer steal it.

  10. Rolling out the Patents:
    First of all I was not surprised by this deal. for one Motorola has not been doing particularly well of recent and it just a matter of time before it is put up for sale. (The vultures have already started to circle) Google had no choice than to buy and inherit the chest of patent available to Motorola. Few in the mobile industry can boast of the amount of patent available to Motorola. They Nokia and Palm laid the foundation work for the smartphone Industry a foundation all the new kids on the block are standing on. It is said that you can not make a smartphone with gsm, and wireless technology without violating a Motorola patent. The patent range from mutitouch interfaces to wireless technology. Having access to these vase number of patent (rumored to be 17,000 recognized and 5000 pending) would go a long way to solve Google’s problem with android (being patent weak) It would put them in the position to play the M.A.D game ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_assured_destruction ) with company that see android as the little kid they can easily pick on and extort some easy $$ from.

    Hardware:

    However we ought to understand that Google buying android is not just about patent, I mean if it were they could easily have bought the patent off them or reached a cross license agreement with Motorola (like the one MS reached with Nokia) where both companies would pool their patents together (this would be cheaper and would calm the nerves of the android partners) however Google still went ahead to buy Motorola that speaks something. It’s says something that confirms what we have been sensing from Google’s body language for a while now: The need to have greater control over the hardware that android ships in. It first started with the creation of the nexus line which was suppose to be that android device which is designed by an android OEM partner and member of the Open Handset Alliance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Handset_Alliance to Google’s specifications. Google reason for such a device was to provide a reference point of android for hardcore users and developers seeking the android experience (Undiluted by any downstream OEM customization) updates for such device would come directly from Google among other things. The Nexus line has not been a commercial success frankly because its a device which is suppose to be sold directly by Google and lets face it Google sucked when it comes to marketing, supporting and selling hardware. Its not just in their DNA. Little wonder that the HTC Desire and Samsung’s galaxy S (Both OEM variant of Nexus devices, are some of the most commercially successful android devices ever) why because well the person in the best position to sell hardware is an hardware company. This is where Motorola comes in, Motorola is an American company, there have huge experience when it comes to making mobile hardware, they are cheap (comparatively) and with them Google can finally have a company under its control with whom to create the perfect zen and fusion of a software and hardware and bring an apple like experience to their customers. The perfect mobile experience is created not when software and hardware a made in isolation, but rather when both are merged together from inception, planning to execution. By acquiring Motorola Google is hence putting its faith in its own hands and it gives the company the expertise and capacity to build and deliver a hardware that is tailored to mesh with its various software offering from chromeOS to android on tablet and phones and smartTVs. It gives Google the advantage currently enjoyed by Apple.

    Where does this leave the Android Partners:

    After the announcement of the Motorola deal, all the major OEMs came out to applaud the move as showing Google’s commitment to android. BUT you can be sure that the mood is not so jolly behind closed doors. Its more of a take it or leave it move. Many have say that this might be a lead to a crack in the overwhelming support that android gets from OEMs to this I say BS. First of android is embraced by the OEMs because its sells, it makes business sense, its cheap and its a no brainer. OEM like samsung, htc and even LG were a bit skeptical about throwing their weight behind android. When android was announced and even when android 1.5, 1.6 version of the OS were released many of this OEMs where a bit reluctant to throw their full weight behind it . HTC still shipped it best hardware on windows mobile (HTC HD2, HTC touch pro ) where the companies hardware flagship while samsung had its legs in symbian with their Omnia device. It was not until poor windows mobile sales compared to strong showing by their android line that companies started to take android seriously. Right now both samsung. motorola htc and all the other oems are kneel too deep in android to back off now. In any case what are the alternatives? almost all the major android oems also wp7 devices and since this guys are just hardware companies it would be suicidal to abandon the hottest platform in the market just because the Google decided to become their competitor, they have no option than to deal with it. in any case microsoft already gives preferential treatment to nokia anyway and nothing can be done about that. sure you may grumble but in the end android is just too irresistible right now to ignore.

    what does this deal spell for android’s ecosystem
    Google came out to state that their acquisition of Motorola would not affect the openness of android nor will it be at a disadvantage to its partners . The announced that Motorola would be ran as a seperate business with seperate account management etc. However we all know this is not true, the only way Google can calm everyone’s nerves is by handling android to an independent foundation which has open governance and where development is done in the open and everyone has a stake. this foundation could be modeled after the Linux foundation or the Mozilla foundation. What this would do is to make android a truly open and independent platform which is oem agnostic. As noble has these suggestion is we all know its not going to happen and google is not going to release its iron grip on the development process of android any time soon. And even though in short term this might not affect the growth of android. Its however puts the whole ecosystem in a precarious path where one company dictates the direction of the OS. the very thing that android was suppose to prevent in the first place.

    How will Motorola patent help with current android patents wars.
    In the short run I don’t see motorola aquisition doing much to help the various android OEMS facing legal action over androids. The Oracle case with Google is not looking good, internal emails from top management at Google revealed that Google willfully violated sun’s patent of java (partly because they felt sun was not going to attack an open source project, well sun didn’t oracle is however not so sentimental) Oracle is not in the smartphone business so google has nothign they want. Google would have to stack up some cash to make oracle go away. HTC is already paying MS Motorola’s patent wont change that. Samsung’s case with apple is more of trademark violation and has little to do with patent. It also won’t protect android from the sniper attack from the smaller patent trolls many of who have nothing to lose hence MAD can not be applied on them.

    However it does put android in a strong position against future bullying from the big telcos. how goole would extend this to cover their partners is yet to be seen but I am sure it is in their interest to ensure that the moto patent is extended to cover the whole android ecosystem and even the linux underlay.

    The aquisition of motorola signals the end of an era. and era dominated by the old guards (Palm, Motorola, Nokia, RIM) is starting to fade away bringing in an era of the domination 4 horse men (google, apple, facebook, amazon http://www.businessinsider.com/google-amazon-apple-facebook-are-the-four-great-horsemen-of-the-internet-famed-vc-johndoerr-at-tcdisrupt-vi-2010-5 ) this are interesting times in the tech industry đŸ™‚

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