Opinions abound on the Motorola acquisition. A quick rundown is in order.
- Plenty of people have made lists of what Google was actually buying with Motorola. One item that nobody seems to have picked up is operator relations. Motorola sells phones through operators, so it has people who negotiate deals with operators. Those people now work for Google. That’s a distinct advantage for the search giant, who previously had no clout with operators at all.
See the failure of the Nexus as a consumer device. Admittedly, I think it wasn’t meant as a consumer device but as a developer device. Still, the total lack of traction in the operator-dominated phone market must have taught Google it needs better relations with operators. Motorola provides that. Only in the US and China, but still.
- Google was in a hurry. GigaOm reveals Microsoft and others were in the race to buy Motorola, too.
- Cue choir of Android vendors: “Yes, we are all individuals.”
- The consensus is that, despite their performance in the choir, other Android vendors such as Samsung and HTC will not be pleased; see for instance GigaOm. There are a few dissenting voices, however, such as TalkAndroid; and Business Insider, which says
This is obviously complete nonsense: Samsung already has bada, which already has 5% world market share of smartphone sales. Do your homework, Business Insider!
By now, it's probably too late for Samsung and HTC to switch to another platform, so they'll have to smile and make the best of it.
- Business Insider obstinately refuses to do its homework: in another article it studies HP’s chances of licensing webOS (which are indeed decent), but seems to have missed the news HP is already talking to Samsung.
- Will Google buy an operator? At first glance it makes sense. However, it wouldn’t work. In the last Critical Path episode (when’s the next one!?!) Horace Dediu made an excellent point: if Apple buys an operator all others will team up against it, and it would become a massive failure. The same goes for Google.
- GigaOm talks about update issues. Right now Google can't get vendors to upgrade fast enough, and Motorola gives them a stick in addition to the carrot:
Google certainly wants to do this. Problem is: vendors won't care. They see their own uniqueness as a brand as more important than the Android version they run. Besides, upgrading is a major headache for them because they have to retest all the UI layers and crapware they inflict on users.
Is an OEM not releasing updates quickly enough? Okay, screw you, we’ll release a Motorola Droid update right now.
The update battle pitches vendors and operators, who want differentiation, against Google and developers, who want one unified OS. Consumers would presumably side with Google if they knew enough about the issues involved, and a higher version number is always sexy when you buy a new phone. Still, I don’t buy the idea that Motorola’s acquisition will somehow force the other vendors to upgrade their phones faster.
- Patents are unlikely to be Google's only reason for buying Motorola.
- Speaking of patents, everybody is elated that Google buys more than 17,000 of them. I always thought quality was more important than quantity, but then I know very little about patents.
- Also, when talking about alternatives for the Android vendors Windows gets rather too much exposure, webOS too little, and MeeGo none at all. Don’t believe everything you read, and keep the entire mobile market in mind when deciding on such fundamental issues.
- Nokia and RIM shares are up. Patents? Or expectations of an acquisition?