Google today announced that they plan to acquire Motorola for $12.5 billion. This is reportedly their largest acquisition ever. The news caught many by surprise, and we had been hearing last week that Motorola Mobility was interested in seeking IP royalties from Android vendors. Now we learn that Google is in the process of scooping up the mobile device maker. They have worked closely in the past, but if this move is approved, it could mean a lot for both companies.
For one, Motorola will have the advantage of being able to build the best Android phones around as they will be afforded the luxury of building the hardware closely with each iteration of Google’s software. That’s something that the other mobile makers won’t be able to do, but it can them at a bad spot.
Google, on the other hand, will have the Apple advantage of controlling everything from the hardware to the software, which will make integration much tighter for them. Again, this puts the other Android handset makers at a spot where their competitor gets a major advantage.
For those worried about Google going completely Apple on them, it’s worth knowing that Google stresses the point that Android will remain completely open.
Many of the tech websites offered their thoughts on the news, and we’ve gathered it up so that you can read some of the main ideas. Two key points come up: patents and control over hardware. Hit the jump to read on.
TechCrunch – As is being reported, Google has announced that they are acquiring Motorola Mobility for about $12.5 billion, or $40 a share, in cash. The key thing mentioned here is that “it’s also a move to build up the company’s patent portfolio” as some may remember, Google has been having trouble due to all the patents relating to mobile operating systems causing problems for Android device vendors. Last week, Motorola warned that they may go after those vendors for IP royalties.
Most importantly were some of the points that TechCrunch brought up after the initial report. It would be Google’s biggest acquisition ever, they say. It will be one of Google’s main growth driver. Where? Well in the mobile phone hardware business, of course. They are also going to gain 17,000 patents, and an additional 7,000 patents that are pending globally, it is reported. The key thing here, however, is “it signals how crucial it is for Google to control the Android experience from soup to nuts.” While in the past it has been what many call the “Windows” approach, which is create the software and let everyone else make the hardware.
So it seems that it’s mostly about designing the hardware to fit the software’s exact specifications. Something Apple has been doing for years, and has proven to work well for them. Still, Android will remain open. This would just be the way to get the “vanilla” version of Android on the standard device, if you will. (Link)
9to5Mac – Website 9to5 Mac points out that Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha, Google CEO Larry Page and Android boss Andy Rubin say that this acquisition will “enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing.”
However, it’s also said that Motorola Mobility will continue to be a licensee of Android and (again) that “Android will remain open.” Motorola Mobility will be running as a separate business. One of the interesting points brought up is from Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents, he tells others not to overestimate the strength of Motorola’s patent portfolio, saying that “Apple and Microsoft sued Motorola Mobility anyway.” Mueller also adds that most Android vendors have lost Linux distribution rights,which would mean that thousands “could legally shake down Android device makers, threatening to obtain Apple-style injunctions unless their demands for a new license grant are met.”
The point that keeps coming up, however, was also talked about by Mueller, “Google may want to become an Apple.” Which would mean doing the hardware and software. (Link)
Engadget – Engadget went over many of the same facts, but asked what this means for Android partners. Sure, the platform will remain open, but how to mobile makers feel about Google acquiring their rival? They got some statements from other mobile makers, and overall, they gave the same line. Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, said that he welcomes the news of the acquisition, and that it demonstrate’s Google’s commitment to “defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem.” Bert Nordberg, CEO of Sony Ericsson and Jong-Seok Park, CEO of LG, both offered similar comments on their end saying that they “welcome Google’s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” (Link)
Gizmodo – Gizmodo also expressed some surprise, opening with “crazy news just in.” Adding that Google may soon be in the hardware business with this acquisition. However, they placed more emphasis on the point that the deal would have to pass through governments around the world and would have to pass through Moto shareholders before getting an okay. Either way, they reiterate many of the points, saying that this is a “big, big deal” thanks to giving Google a way to get into the hardware business.
They also offer additional thoughts on the acquisition. First bringing up that Google making their own hardware “makes things super awkward for Google’s Android partners, and could be the best thing that ever happened to Windows Phone.” This because Motorola phones will no doubt be at an advantage, and the other device makers will need their plan of attack.
Giz does make mention of Google’s “retail skills” noting that they screwed up with marketing the launch of the Nexus One. They also ask what this means as far as handsets, because Moto has 24 Android handsets on the market, “does that mean we’re suddenly going to have two dozen phones running stock Android?” (Link)
BGR – Boy Genius Report also touches on the fact that this is all part of an attempt to “better-align Google to compete with Apple’s iPhone.” They reiterate all the points brought up about this giving Google complete control of the user experience from end-to-end. They can now ensure that the hardware fits the software the way they see fit. Again, the question of how this will affect Google’s relationship with Android partners comes up. (Link)
Going the Apple Route
This strategy has worked well for Apple. Sure, there are more Android handsets out there, but the iPhone is doing very well for device that was until just this year only available through one carrier. iOS is also an operating system that’s only available on one line of phones, the iPhone. Android won’t go that route, at least not based on what Google is saying, but we will have to see what other mobile device makers do.
How do you feel about the acquisition? Will you like having Google’s “ideal Android phone” or does this spell trouble in your eyes? Let us know in the comments.