Opinion: How the Google-Motorola deal will spawn a new OS

phone-os-conceptThis week I’m at a convention of analysts from the major firms who cover mobile devices. Most of the major names are here and, as you might imagine, much of the discussion is on the acquisition of Motorola Mobile by Google. While I don’t want to imply that all of us are in agreement — we seldom are — a theme has emerged in terms of consensus Android as an open OS is pretty much done. Google is now on the path to becoming much like Apple, with Android as an integrated solution. This could actually improve the quality of future Android phones, but it is also creating a substantial demand for something to take its place.

Android is dead, the Android Phone is born

The first part of this growing consensus is that by buying Motorola, Google made it nearly impossible to sustain relationships with the other licensees. This group of mostly mobile phone companies largely either didn’t adopt or abandoned Symbian after Nokia bought it, and avoids with a passion supporting any common platform that is tied to a competitor. It simply puts them at too great a disadvantage. Nokia actually went farther than Google is going to create separation between Symbian and its handset business, and it clearly wasn’t far enough.

Handset makers and carriers (firms that supply the cell phone service) are now in an almost panic as they look for a multi-vendor common solution that can take the place of Android.

Windows Phone 7

This provides a significant advantage for Windows Phone 7, but many of the phone makers have been burned by this platform in the past, and the carriers seem to have written it off. What is interesting is that the carriers and the phone makers are at cross purposes here. The carriers want the Droid model where they can specify products (phones, apps, services) that are unique to them and lock customers into them. In short, the carriers didn’t like the Android model that much anyway, and see the Windows Phone platform as too similar. After all, both create loyalty to the platform and provide portability for customers, something carriers really don’t like about the iPhone.

best windows phone apps 3 2 7

The phone makers didn’t like the fact that Google didn’t listen to them, and both the carriers and phone makers are convinced that Microsoft won’t listen to them either. Case in point: The phone makers wanted a tablet OS from Microsoft based on the Windows Phone platform, and Microsoft told them “no.” That doesn’t work for them. So, at least for now, the Windows Phone OS isn’t getting much lift from this.

WebOS

Another platform that could have moved on this opportunity is HP’s webOS, but it has the same problem Android and Symbian had; it is tied back to a company that builds smartphones and tablets. While none of the cell phone makers take HP seriously here, they don’t want to fund a competitor. In addition, apparently the webOS licensing costs exceed substantially what they might be willing to pay. So, for different reasons, webOS isn’t getting any air from this either at the moment. In fact, it’s getting even less consideration than Microsoft’s platform is.

hp-touchpad

Wrapping up: The Mystery OS

I’m seeing rumblings of another platform entering the market to address the opportunity the Google move has created. Apparently a number of my peers are in the know on this, but wisely aren’t talking, because I’m getting covert grins and knowing winks. My expectation is that this new OS will appear sometime in the next 18 months and that, until then, most of the Android makers will likely have to stay the course. The difficulty for this new OS is to reconcile the carrier needs for a platform that belongs to them with the needs of the phone makers to recreate what they had with Android.

So the expected outcome is that Googorola (Google + Motorola) will see quality improvements more in line with the Mac platform, but Android will likely evaporate from all of the other makers. In effect, fewer but better (in terms of reliability) phones should result. This platform and Apple could eventually divide the market.

Wild cards are HP and Microsoft, who will have to rethink their strategies to compete and the emergence of a new platform to fill the gap where Android used to be. But new platforms typically take at least two years to mature, suggesting most won’t care that much about it until 2013 at the earliest. A lot can happen over the next 2.5 years, so all this means is that, given most of you buy phones every two or so years, this won’t impact your buying decisions this year. After that, you may have a new choice, a Mystery OS.

One final thought: Google currently appears to be trying to have this both ways, which could significantly slow its ability to bring out a better, iPhone-like, integrated product. That should help the emergence of this as yet unannounced new OS significantly. Oh boy, yet another OS. I’ll bet you can hardly wait.

Guest contributor Rob Enderle is the founder and principal analyst for the Enderle Group, and one of the most frequently quoted tech pundits in the world. Opinion pieces denote the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Digital Trends.

Top image courtesy of Oleksiy Mark/Shutterstock.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Product Review

The Black Shark gaming phone takes a big bite out of your free time, but the software sinks it

The world is being treated to an ever-increasing number of high-powered gaming phones. With so many great options already out, is there room for another? The Black Shark thinks so. But is it any good? We find out.
Mobile

How to switch from iPhone to Android: The ultimate guide

If you've decided to bridge the great tech divide and leave Apple's walled garden for the unknown shores of Android, then you'll find all the tips and advice you need to begin switching from an iPhone to an Android device.
Mobile

On a budget? We found the best affordable smartphones you can buy

Here are the best cheap phones for anyone working with a tight budget, whether you're a fan of stock Android or marathon battery life. Find out what you can get for under $500 or far, far less as we round up the best budget smartphones.
Mobile

Android 9.0 updates to stretch into 2019 — will your phone get a slice of Pie?

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Mobile

Google makes it easy to donate to charity straight through the Play Store

As we head into the holiday season, Google announced a new feature on Google Play that makes it a little easier to donate to charity. Through the new page, you'll be able to choose from a range of charities to donate to.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.
Mobile

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Mobile

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Mobile

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.
Mobile

Ditch your smartphone for a year and win $100k from Vitaminwater

Vitaminwater is willing to part with $100,000 if you're willing to part with your smartphone partner for a year. Could you last for a year armed with only a 1996-era phone? Here's your chance to find out.