This week amid a terrible a terrible financial forecast Google announces that they plan to purchase Motorola Mobility. At first glance this seems like an interesting move for Google, purchasing one of their largest partners for Android powered cell phones. Apparently however, the main reason Google made this purchase (assuming it gets approved) is to own all of the patents that Motorola owns (roughly 17,000 patents). Google hopes this will now keep companies like microsoft and Apple from suing or threatening to sue Google and their partners. This may also be why HTC and Samsung have said that they are behind this purchase. At least for now. Here is an interesting story from NPR that illustrates the patent suing game as a cold war standoff.
With all of that patent talk aside, the really exciting piece to this story is how this is going to affect Android smart phones and tablets in the future. An article recently came out from Fast Company, talking about how companies like Apple have done so well innovating new products because they were able to learn from manufacturing their own products. Could this move also put Google in that category? I think it might. It also might be the key to making Android even better than it already is. Previously Google would launch new flagship phones (G1 and Nexus specifically) without having spent as much time ensuring that the device itself stood up with the software it was running. Motorola should be able to provide the necessary help to ensure that Android devices, at least those made by Motorola, compare with the iPhone and any other mobile devices out there…Including tablets.
Google says it will remain ‘open’ but how long can that really last. Not necessarily on Google’s part, but looking at this through HTC and Samsung’s eyes, Motorola is now essentially a competitor who is trading with insider info. How long before they decide that its not worth the struggle to keep up? And Where do those manufacturers head if they decide its not worth it to stick with Android? Windows mobile? Thats a much more expensive operating system to run (Android is free). This would probably make Ballmer pretty happy because HTC makes great phones and if Windows could get their hands on a deal with HTC or Samsung, it would make their mobile operating system look a little better to a lot of people. Although the odds of that happening are slim to none.
The last piece to this puzzle are Android tablets and Google TV. Tablets are a no-brainer. Motorola could help make Android tablets THE tablet to buy in the same fashion as Andoid mobile devices, relegating the iPad to Steve’s fanboys. Google TV also stands to gain some ground as Motorola is actually a maker of many of the set top boxes. Their insight into improving the all-but-defunct Google TV could bring this idea back into living rooms across the country.
So what do you think about this purchase? Do you think it will even go through? And what about the future of mobile technology? let me know in the comments field below or send me a note on Twitter.
Looking for some more info on the purchase of Motorolla? Check out these articles.
Fast Company Reaction
TechCrunch Live blog of announcement