Google Purchases Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion
By Joseph D. Lienjdlien. Tuesday, August 16, 2011 9:22:49 PM
In a fairly surprising and significant announcement yesterday, Google has revealed that they are acquiring Motorola Mobility.
This is a merger of epic proportions -- even for Google, $12.5 billion isn't exactly pocket change. And with so many good manufacturing partners already, why did they do it? Was there some need to become more of a vertically integrated phone manufacturer/software vendor along the lines of Apple?
This seems unlikely at this juncture given that (at least initially) Google has stated that Motorola will be run as a separate business entity, so the way things work for Motorola and other Android partners won't be terribly different from today.
The reason for this move is quite obviously so that Google can have full access to Motorola's patent portfolio. It is a substantial one, and given that the current state of the mobile industry is characterized by full-out patent warfare, this seems necessary -- especially given Google's failure to acquire the Nortel patent portfolio that recently sold to a competing coalition of companies.
As for how this will affect end users, this may mean that Motorola's devices will get cleaner, less cluttered versions of Android and be updated on a rapid and consistent basis, à la the Nexus series of phones (which incidentally were all made by other companies than Motorola).
As for the rest of the industry, Google's other Android partners have openly made comments "welcoming Google's commitment to defending Android and its partners" (in almost those exact words). Yet analysts expect many manufacturers to switch a focus to Windows Phone, and Microsoft is trying to carry that thought as far as possible.
Windows Phone Division President Andy Lees has said "Investing in a broad and truly open ecosystem is important for the industry and consumers alike, and Winodws Phone is now the only platform that does so with equal opportunity for all partners."
In conclusion, it seems unlikely that this move will have immediate, tangible effects for end users, but it could definitely change the nature of the smartphone landscape on a high level -- especially when it comes to the legal wrangling that is going on. But it can't be a bad thing for the longevity of Android. Can it?