Google: Motorola Gets No Special Treatment

by Matt Klassen on October 20, 2011

When Google acquired popular Android handset manufacturer Motorola Mobility in August, it set off a ripple of discontent through the Android ecosystem. On the outside Android partners lauded the acquisition; while quietly concerns were raised that Google would begin to favour Motorola over its other partners.

In fact, many analysts concluded that Google may in fact be damaging its extensive Android network, as acquiring Motorola puts the search engine giant in competition with the very companies it depends on to maintain Android’s popularity.

In a recent statement, however, Google’s Android boss Andy Rubin set the record straight and it looks like truly Motorola will be getting no special treatment and Google is not using the acquisition to enter the mobile hardware market. But will Google be able to keep Motorola at arms length, or will it nevertheless soon become the darling of the Android world?

During an interview yesterday at the All Things Digital’s AsiaD conference in Hong Kong, Rubin took a moment to assuage fears of Google’s impending entrance into the handset market and offered a glimpse into Google’s real reason’s for acquiring Motorola.

“I don’t think you should consider Google’s acquisition of Motorola as Google entering the hardware business,” Rubin said. “This is going to be an arm’s length thing…Motorola isn’t going to get any special treatment.” As cryptic explanations go, this one isn’t too bad, but it certainly requires some explanation.

What Rubin is apparently saying is that Google’s primary reasons for acquiring Motorola has nothing to do with the hardware business, as clearly Google sees its cadre of Android partners as its lifeline in the mobile industry. Instead, Google acquired Motorola to extend the company’s reach in the mobile world, but exactly how will Motorola help with that?

It may come as shock to hear that Google, despite it size, influence, and the overwhelming popularity of Android, has little clout in the mobile world when it comes to legal protection, as the search engine giant sports a relatively paltry portfolio of intellectual property. Acquiring Motorola, with its expansive list of patents, simply gives Google more legal power to actively defend its Android OS from the legal challenges it continues to face.

But despite these assurances, many remain skeptical about Google’s willingness and even its ability to keep Motorola at an arm’s length, with many citing concerns that Motorola will, almost by default, become Google’s darling of the Android world.

Looking forward, Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg predicts that through Motorola Google will begin to compete with its own Android partners, stating that “Any way (Google) tries to couch this, there’s no doubt Motorola is the most favored player….If I’m a third-party vendor, I have some real concerns here.”

So how will third-party Android vendors respond? As I’ve predicted, look for this to be a catalyst for the Android exodus as companies begin to differentiate themselves from Google’s stock OS, a move that will initially begin with increased Android customization and end with companies seeking their own OS alternatives.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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