Google already surpassed the two biggest hurdles in its acquisition of Motorola Mobility when the European Union and the US Justice Department approved the deal. The search giant now has to wait for the approval of China, Taiwan and Israel, then everything will be set.
The acquisition has generated a lot of buzz as concerns of patent monopoly and Android exclusivity became an issue. With the two most important regulators’ approval, you can’t help but think how the deal would impact the market?
Smart homes and patents
When Google announced the deal last year, the company stated that the acquisition was about Motorola’s patents, since they lost the Nortel patents to a consortium led by Apple. If the rest of the regulators approve the buy, Google will become one of the largest owners of patents in the world. But looking at things from a broader perspective, this acquisition is not just about the patents, it’s about the devices.
Looking at Google and Motorola’s plans last year, they are both making efforts in creating smart homes. They’re both out to dominate our homes with devices that can be controlled by our tablets or smartphones. So it’s not just about acquiring patents or dominating the mobile industry with new and better smartphones and tablets. A full integration of Motorola would give Google independence to create its own devices, powered by Android, or even Chrome.
Google will greatly benefit from the acquisition, aside from the massive patent portfolio it will gain, they will now have their own manufacturing division. This will enable them to fully showcase the power of the Android platform, since they will be the one making the device that will run the OS. Right now, OEMs using Android are tweaking the OS to their desired specifications, often times, so much has been tweaked that users don’t even know that their device is running on the Android platform. This acquisition could give birth to the Motorola Nexus line–or rather, a tighter integration of Google software with Motorola hardware.
As for Motorola, they will probably be prioritized when a new version of Android is released. Since they will be owned by Google, the search giant doesn’t need to look for other brands to test their OS – they already own one. So expect that most updates will be for Motorola devices at first. And according to recent reports, Motorola is set to unveil a teardrop-shaped Android 4.0 smartphone equipped with an Intel Medfield chip. The selling feature of the unnamed device would be the camera, with instant-on and 15 frame-per-second burst mode. MOTOBLUR is also rumored to be joining the gang but that would mask the beauty of ICS.
Google + devices = Apple
This deal could also give birth to an Apple-like company. With the acquisition, Google will now have both software and hardware, they could opt to stop making Android an open source platform if they want to. In doing so, they could enter licensing agreements with other OEMs to use their platform which will result in a lot of royalties. Google doesn’t need to violate FRAND in order to earn from licensing deals, by sticking to the 2.25% licensing royalties of Motorola per device, that would generate them billions of cash.
But what does this mean for other Android OEMs? Like I’ve said, they could opt to go exclussive and make these OEMs pay royalties, or Google can set them aside and prioritize development for Motorola. Though Google stated that Android will remain open source, OEMs are looking for their fallback.
Since the announcement last year, Samsung has already partnered with other OS makers in case the worst happens like when they partnered with Microsoft and created the first Windows 8 tablet. They’ve also been exerting extra effort to promote and develop their own mobile OS, Bada, and even released new models running on this platform, which they could also release as an open source platform as HP has done. They also partnered with the Linux Foundation to develop a new OS called Tizen, which would bridge the gap for app developers for different platforms and devices.
There was also talks last year that HTC is creating or purchasing their own mobile OS in response to the Google-MoMo deal and the iOS domination. And the OS in question is HP’s webOS. But it looks like the rumors will be finally put to rest as HP found a way to make use of webOS and they just released Isis webOS browser. And it looks like HTC is partnering with Sony and they will be the first OEM, aside from Sony, to have access to Sony’s PlayStation Suite platform and offer PlayStation-certified mobile devices. The deal could be announced at the Mobile World Congress later this month.
Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said that the PlayStation Suite platform “isn’t an ecosystem where we want to keep everything within the Sony family.”