Google is now the proud owner of the one of the world’s most recognisable mobile brands: Motorola. Well that statement might have true 5 years ago: Is this purchase a bold new direction for the search engine giant or a marriage of convenience? We look into our crystal ball to see what the future holds Google-rola.
When Google announced it was intending to spend an eye-watering 12 billion dollars on Motorola – the tech world raised more than eyebrow – it left many to thinking that Google might be planning a massive shakeup of Android and would lead the charge with its own Google-made phones and tablets.
The purchase of Motorola might also be linked to Google’s ongoing patent troubles and could be interpreted as a straight-up acquisition of a company that owns a war-chest of patents, which they know will come handy when fending off other competitors law suits.
But whether Google bought the company for its knowledge, IP’s, or was just a bit bored – they’ve bought themselves a company that knows how to make hardware – so what will Google do with its new bedmate?
The official party line
In an announcement on Tuesday, Google CEO Larry Page said the Motorola would be run at arms length from Google and most importantly Android – music to the ears of other Android manufacturers you might think. But, there are, of course, going to be wholesale changes at Motorola. Page announced that it will be replacing Motorola CEO with a longtime Googler Dennis Woodside and would also replace several other key executives.
Whatever Google has planned – it’s clearly going to be quite drastic to the current makeup of Motorola. What does remain a mystery is why put a man (Dennis Woodside) in charge when he has no real background in mobile communications and comes from a acquisitions background (according to his LinkedIn profile).
Motorola on the inside track
Motorola is a bit of a lame duck; it managed a bit of success with its Android offerings, but the market has moved on since the Razor et al – Samsung is the dominant handsetmaker alongside HTC, leaving LG and Motorola to fight it out for the leftover scraps.
But it could now have the edge on its competitors as Motorola will no doubt get the inside track on what will happen to Android in the future – it’s naïve to suggest the Motorola won’t get some form of insider knowledge since they’re now owned by Google. Which, in turn, could upset other manufacturers who might see the level playing skewed by the purchase of a handset maker.
Our report this week suggests Google might be planning something massive for Android this year; a completely new line of Nexus handsets from a multitude of different manufacturers – so in theory this close relationship could be mitigated if they give a closer relationship to a handful of handset makers – but the question would still remain why buy Motorola in the first place.
It’s also worth noting that Motorola that has a stake in a cable company in America – so Google might look to use that business to leverage its plans with Google TV – but what makes a good TV service is content, and not fancy technology – so the cable company might not be that important in Google eye’s when it came to buying out Motorola.
If Google’s plans for the Motorola are just patent-based then over the next 12 months the search engine giant will perform surgery selling of the healthy organs to the highest bidder – keeping the patents and assets they want for themselves.
This would obviously be a bad for Motorola’s employees – it would also be a PR nightmare for Google who have never really been known as an asset stripper. And if that is their intention it could have bought a different treasure trove of patents if they had bought AOL’s patents recently – which Microsoft bougth and then sold to Facebook for half the price.
While making hardware deosn’t really chime with the Google we know and love – you cant help but think that they’re more than just a little bit jealous of Apple and their ability to capture the world’s imagination with elegantly designed products and make massive profits from them – money is in both apps and hardware at the moment Google isn’t doing either particularly well.
Google has no idea….
It could be that Google hasn’t really decided what it’s going to do with Motorola and won’t do until it really gets to know its new acquisition – but it’s hard not to draw parallels with other tech purchases; for instance when Ebay bought a controlling share of Skype in 2006 it didn’t really work because the two companies didn’t have any real connection – Skype has since been sold to Microsoft, another baffling purchase.
Other concerns are, of course, how the corporate culture will change – will Motorola really be free from Google’s peering eye’s and how can they be expected to compete with say Samsung (Google’s Android cash-cow) and stay independent and not be seen to get preferential treatment.
Other issues might arise if Motorola want to make handsets for Microsoft’s Windows Phone – would Google allow that? Anyway you look at it Motorola are going to struggle to run their own affairs – so it’s going to be difficult for them to remain the same, which ever way you spin it.
What we know for certain is there are going to be major changes at Motorola – and it’s likely to mean job losses, selling off of assets and and big change at Motorola. We’ll, obviously, know more over the coming months and years – but you can’t help but feel Google didn’t spend 12 billion dollars just for patents and we think Google might be planning a new hardware focus where it will see money from hardware and not just software when it comes to their fledgling Android business – a bold move, but probably the right move.