“We welcome everyone with open arms, while Motorola continues its war with Microsoft and Apple barely acknowledges our existence as a threat. It is time all of this changed, no matter the cost.”
I imagine something along the lines of the quote above was going through the minds of Google before the company acquired Motorola Mobility. This acquisition means so much more than patent defense. It is almost as if Google is trying to give a warning to all of its competition. They played the game well up until now, but there are many areas of the Android ecosystem in need of help. They are stepping in for battle to crank the competition up a notch.
How does the acquisition affect Google? Larry Page already stated in a very vague press release the company’s intentions.
The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences. I am confident that these great experiences will create huge value for shareholders.
What exactly does he mean by saying the acquisition will “supercharge Android”? For one, Google just gained over 17,000 patents and Motorola submitted over 7,000 that are still pending approval. And while we are talking numbers, the company also just opened their doors to roughly 19,000 Motorola employees — a 60% increase in employees at Google overall.
Additionally, acquiring Motorola means Google is now a driving force behind the hardware for Android devices. If they want, they can now contribute to the Droid line of Android hardware under the Google name. And quite frankly, I do not see a reason not to. Maybe they might choose to stick with the Motorola brand, but contributing to the hardware definitely gives Google some key advantages. More on that later.
One main reason to buy Motorola is to take down Microsoft in the patent wars. Obviously, Google thinks they can do a better job than Motorola at defending patents that go in to Android devices. Another quote from Larry Page is a bit more blatant regarding the sticky situation:
We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. […] Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.
He uses the word “anti-competitive” twice. Unfortunately, it is just a not-so-clever mask on a surprisingly clever company. This has everything to do with competition. How can Page sit there and write to us that everyone is happy and things are going swimmingly when Google just spent $12.5 billion acquiring a company currently at war? For Microsoft, the acquisition is pretty much Google telling them to sit down and shut up. Google has the patents, has the leadership, and most importantly has Android, which is precisely what Microsoft is fighting about. Their green monsters are about to crush Microsoft and their fresh fruit.
Believe it or not, Google shoots a couple of bullets in Cupertino’s direction with their recent shopping spree. Apple has always boasted about how it takes full control over both software and hardware to make a truly great product. This clearly worked for them, since the company is now vying with Exxon Mobil to become the most valuable company in the world.
When developing Android, Google decided to take the same route Microsoft took with Windows. They create the software, many others create the hardware. This results in a quick and easy gain in market share. Unfortunately for Google, this means sacrificing a significant amount of control. Not a single Android device even comes slightly close to the iPhone in terms of market share and success.
Perhaps Google is now looking for some more control to make Android devices more powerful. Though Apple is known to set the gold standard for hardware, Motorola Mobility gives Google the tools necessary to at least compete, even if it results in failure.
Google’s favoritism for Motorola certainly must not sit well with other manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung. They have to realize any new Android devices churning out of Motorola will receive a prominent spotlight. In a way, Google is now both a friend and competitor.
Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, and LG have all released statements on the acquisition. Each contain this sentence or a variation of this sentence: “We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.” Seriously, they all say that. It is almost creepy. We have come to expect major companies to publicly turn any issue into something beneficial for them. But behind those brief statements are angry hardware manufacturers.
Twitter pulled this type of move on its developers numerous times. They released their own official iPhone and iPad apps, redesigned the main website into more of a web app, and partnered with Photobucket to launch their own photo-sharing service. The tension between Twitter and developers has definitely grown, and so will the tension between Google and Android partners.
“Don’t Be Evil”
Make no mistake — the Motorola acquisition is an evil move. Google aims to take down the competition and is completely willing to build up stress with its partners in the process. The next chore is making that $12.5 billion money well spent, which is an uphill battle for Google, but they are fully prepared to fight. The “don’t be evil” mantra is over. Nice guys finish last.