Sibling rivalry: Will Google’s Motorola buy turn other Android makers green?


Google rocked the mobile industry Monday with its surprise plan to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. According to Google CEO Larry Page, the move is intended to “supercharge” Android, as well as “protect” the highly popular mobile operating system against the likes of Microsoft, Apple, and others, who “are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android.”

In Google’s view, the heaviest assault on Android came on July 1, when a consortium of companies, including Apple, Research In Motion, Sony and Microsoft purchased more than 6,000 patents from Canadian telecommunications giant Nortel for $4.5 billion dollars, beating out Google’s $900 million bid.

Some believe, however, that Google had no intention of winning the Nortel auction, and was actually banking on scoring a deal with Motorola — a deal that has now put more than 17,000 patents, three times the Nortel portfolio, and 7,500 pending patents, in Google’s pocket.

Reinforcements have arrived

So, now that Google’s on the offensive in the patent war — and jumped head-first into the business of building cell phones — what’s in store for Android as a platform, and the Android ecosystem as a whole?

“Google has introduced a new dynamic into the ecosystem,” says Kevin Restivo, senior analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. And this game-changing move has “immediately fortified [Google] in the case, in the court, to keep Android as-is.”

Google will be able to use its soon-to-be-acquired cache of patents to fight back the litigious vultures at Microsoft and Apple, and keep Android alive and well.

Playing favorites

The big unknown now, says Restivo, is how Google’s hardware partners — companies like Samsung, HTC, LG and others — will react, especially in the long-term, to Google putting itself in direct competition with them.

“Until now, all Google’s hardware partners have been more or less equal,” says Restivo. But Google “hasn’t owned a hardware maker before,” either. In buying Motorola Mobility, Google has forced “an entirely new relationship” on its hardware partners, and they will “want assurances that it’s business as usual.”

Of course, Google has been working frantically since announcing the deal Monday morning to keep talk of partner volatility to a minimum.

“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,” writes Google’s chief executive. “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.”

Other manufacturers react

To quell the impression of unrest, Google even created a website today called “Quotes from Android partners — Facts about Google’s acquisition of Motorola.” As of this writing, the only thing on the page contains is eerily similar quotes from various partners about how wholeheartedly they “welcome” the deal.

“We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.” writes J .K. Shin, the president of Samsung’s mobile communications division.

“I welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners,” echoed Bert Nordberg president and CEO of Sony Ericsson.

You can almost hear teeth grinding behind their smiles.

The page goes on and on, with each subsequent sound bite further enforcing that things couldn’t be better between Google and its Android hardware partners. For now, that may very well be the case, at least in a functional sense. In order for Google to maintain the status quo, however, it’s “going to have show its partners that it loves them all equally,” says Restivo.

No turning back now

Due to this need to keep partners happy, “I don’t think you’re going to see an Apple-like model [from Google],” says Restivo. “Google will not introduce flagship phones itself, based on Motorola’s hardware.”

“I don’t think you’ll see hardware partners turn on Google or Android,” says Restivo, for the time being. “There won’t be immediate hostility. However, those partners will have to hedge their OS bets, and have a broader array of OSs in their portfolios [down the road.]”

Because of this inevitable need to diversify, we could possibly see Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility indirectly boosting other mobile operating systems.

“If you’re Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, you’re probably going to look harder at where you’re long-term bets are placed,” says Restivo. And because of this, we may see “more WP7 phones shipped” simply because handset makers will be forced to rely less upon Android as a platform.

Still, “it’s hard to say if other OSs will get a boost,” Restivo adds. “Samsung, HTC, LG – all these hardware providers have based their business on Android. Regardless of how much they like, or don’t like, the Motorola Mobility buy, it’s impossible for them to completely turn their backs on Google. They are very much dependent on Android and, therefore, Google.”

Former competitors hand in hand

While the acquisition of Motorola certainly appears to have put Google’s hardware partners in a tough spot, Restivo says Google’s purchase will help the company improve Android to offer a more streamlined, concrete product for consumers.

Until this point, Android developers have had the challenging task of creating apps for a plethora of different handsets that are all just different enough to make Android a messy affair for users.

“One of the biggest problems Google has had is fragmentation, its inability to have the same experience replicated over all Android devices,” says Restivo. “Having Motorola gives it more flexibility to experiment.”

Restivo adds: “Google knows much of its future depends on mobile. It’s going to want to rectify the consumer experience problems. And Motorola Mobility potentially allows it to so.”

Uncertainty ahead

While adding Motorola to its ranks certainly has its perks, Restivo warns that owning and operating a hardware manufacturer — something Google has never done before — has its own set of unique challenges.

“Hardware ownership is a completely different ballgame,” says Restivo. “Google has no experience managing supply chains,” for example. Because of this lack of know-how, “Google would be wise to learn much from incoming employees.”


Want more power, but faster? This new charging tech claims it can deliver

Chunky power bricks and slow charging could be a thing of the past with GaNFast technology from Navitas Semiconductors. By using an alternative to silicon, GaNFast reduces power consumption and boosts output.

Google is buying mysterious smartwatch tech from The Fossil Group for $40 million

Google is about to step up its smartwatch game. The company has agreed to buy an unnamed smartwatch technology from The Fossil Group for a hefty $40 million. Considering the acquisition, it's clear Google is serious about smartwatches.

Check out the four cool Swatch watches you can use for mobile payments

Swatch has announced its Swatchpay technology is now available in Switzerland, enabling mobile payments from your Swatch watch. It works in a similar way to Apple Pay and Google Pay. Here's everything about it.
Home Theater

Want to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV? Here's how

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow sending anything on your mobile device to your TV. Our in-depth guide shows you how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to the big screen from virtually any device available.

Google Fi is getting support for the next-gen messaging standard, RCS Chat

Google has been pushing the development of the RCS Chat standard, and now it's finally bringing that new standard to its own carrier -- Google Fi. With Chat, customers will get features like read receipts, better group messaging, and more.

Sony is showing something off at MWC -- will it be the Xperia XZ4?

Sony may have released the Xperia XZ3 in the past few months, but already it's preparing to release a follow-up, the Xperia XZ4. We're learning plenty about the phone now some details have started to leak out, and it's getting exciting.

Do these Geekbench results accurately represent the Moto G7?

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.

Is this the first image of a Galaxy S10 being used in real life?

It won't be long now; With 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.

Omron HeartGuide brings blood pressure monitoring to your wrist

High blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and many other health problems, so it's important to keep an eye on. Omron's HeartGuide is a fitness tracking watch that can also monitor your blood pressure from your wrist.

Learn how to play YouTube in the background on iOS and Android

We show you how to play YouTube in the background with apps such as Opera, Chrome, and Firefox -- along with the premium offerings like YouTube Premium -- whether you have an Android or iOS device.

Android vs. iOS: Which smartphone platform is the best?

If you’re trying to choose a new phone and you’re not sure about the merits and pitfalls of the leading smartphone operating systems, then come on in for a detailed breakdown as we pit Android vs. iOS in various categories.

Verizon’s deal could get you a free iPhone XR — but there’s some fine print

Verizon launched a new deal for its smartphones aimed at encouraging customers to open a new line. If you're willing and you want two new phones, you could get a free Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone XR, or Pixel 3.

Get $100 discount on the Razer Phone 2 for a limited time

The Razer Phone 2 is finally here, and it's got upgraded specs, that super-smooth 120Hz display, and an updated design. Here's absolutely everything you need to know about the Razer Phone 2.
Social Media

Here’s how to save someone’s Instagram Story to your phone

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.