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Why Google had to have Motorola Mobility

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Taken from The Guardian.

For several years now, Google has been following a vow made by former CEO Eric Schmidt: mobile first. New CEO Larry Page is taking that dictum to a new level by announcing a deal to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5bn.

The implications of this deal depend entirely on how Google plans to use Motorola. If, as some claim, the deal is more about obtaining Motorola’s mobile patent portfolio than anything else, we can expect escalating patent warfare between technology giants and limited innovation beyond that. If, however, Google intends to operate the business it is acquiring, we may see some broad and sweeping changes in the technology industry.

If the deal is chiefly about obtaining Motorola’s mobile patent portfolio, then Google would likely spin off the hardware end of the company and keep the software and patents. The patents would be vital weapons in its competition with Apple and Microsoft, as the two companies are using patent claims to try to slow the remarkable growth of Google’s Android operating system, which has become the most widely used smartphone platform.

But assuming Google intends to operate the business it is purchasing – and also assuming, as seems probable, regulatory approval of the deal – the landscape for Google, and the technology industry more broadly, will change. Some of the implications are clear already.

Perhaps Google wants to be more like Apple, owning an entire ecosystem around Android. For all its success, Android has suffered from “feature balkanisation”, as phone manufacturers and carriers have turned the open source system to their own aims.

Motorola knows how to make good hardware (though it’s been outdone in that regard by Samsung and HTC in the Android market), and one can imagine some excellent devices – once Google controls the outcome, as it did with its initial Nexus One phone (made by HTC) and Nexus S (Samsung).

Read the whole story at: Why Google had to have Motorola Mobility | Dan Gillmor | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

Written by Kees Winkel

August 17, 2011 at 10:33

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