Google Bringing Order to Android

10:30 AM -- Now the mobile device competition is getting interesting again.

With Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s coming purchase of Motorola Mobility LLC , it may be that Google is attempting to be the standard-bearer -- the influencer with the clearest, loudest voice -- in that disjointed jungle known as the Android marketplace. (See Google Acquires Moto Mobility for $12.5B.)

In May, Google revealed that more than 310 different Android devices were launched by 36 different OEMs so far. It's a notable achievement but it illustrates just how confusing the Android space has become.

In the Pyramid Research report on the smartphone ecosystem back in June, analyst Stela Bokun did a great job of spelling out how Google's indirect involvement in Android helped the operating system take off:

"Unlike other smartphone OS developers, Google does not manufacture any device or charge for software licenses, and thus does not have direct sources of revenue as the foundation for its business model. The main motivation in the creation of Android was the development of an OS ecosystem powerful enough to make the mobile Internet opportunity a reality available to as many people as possible. By doing this, Google expects to expand its core market on mobile search and ad businesses by enlarging its audience to the mobile population. Its motivation is then an indirect one, which is best met by making Android available to as big an audience as possible, thus the open source and free-of-charge nature of the OS."

Why change?
For even more consumer adoption on the high-end, Google needs to lead by example so the rest of the world can figure out which of the 310 devices by 36 companies makes sense for them.

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s simplicity, single product line and value-chain control have made it the most valuable company in the world.

Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s arrangement with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), too, is the talk of the industry because of the worldwide potential those two brands might have by helping one another's cause. (See Windows Phone & World Domination.)

Google now feels that the way to help Android move forward is 1) get more directly involved by profiting directly from the devices sold and 2) to become a sort of de facto standard in the industry, using the current and future Motorola Mobility portfolio to show the rest of the ecosystem how to win (while, of course, remaining open).

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:56:14 PM
re: Google Bringing Order to Android

Wouldn't this make Motorola, not Google, the "standards-bearer, influencer and de facto" OEM in the mobile space? It opens up the potential for some really tightly integrated, awesome Moto Android phones, but I don't see how it makes the market less confusing. It just makes Moto stand out in it and hurts the rest of Android's partners.

I don't see how Google can remain open and use its Moto acquisition to the fullest.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:56:13 PM
re: Google Bringing Order to Android

I agree that it's definitely good for consumers, Moto, Google and probably developers too. I just don't think other OEMs will also be thrilled to have a reference design from a competitor. Although, it will raise the bar for all OEMs, which is definitely a good thing.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:56:13 PM
re: Google Bringing Order to Android

Here's a post by Jeff Jarvis on the idea that this is just about patent proection and that Google still is not interested in getting deeper into devices:


I agree with the thought that Google is not going to compete with other Android OEMs, but I think they'd be wasting a valuable resource if they did not use the visibility Moto affords them to give the Android device market some clear direction and new design ideas.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:56:13 PM
re: Google Bringing Order to Android

Let's play the percpetion game for a minute. Anything Moto does from now on will be credited to or blamed on Google. It just will.

As of now, everyone compares new Android devices to the iPhone. Now they'll have a friendly developer that can show some direction and perhaps license technology/patents/hardware improvements. This should help other developers stand out among a cluster of weak, cheap and niche vendors/devices.

Google has shown with the Nexus that it can have a device in the market without scaring off developers and OEMs.



DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:56:10 PM
re: Google Bringing Order to Android

they do have a valuable patent portfolio. Ichan and other investors have been pretty vocal about Moto being worth more than its market share, devices, etc.

re: "After all, if Google does not intend to give Moto any advantages of having Google as an owner, why are they buying the company?"

jepovic 12/5/2012 | 4:56:10 PM
re: Google Bringing Order to Android

If Moto runs into serious profitability problems, which seems highly likely or even already a fact, it will be very tempting for Google to give Moto advantages. After all, if Google does not intend to give Moto any advantages of having Google as an owner, why are they buying the company?

I dont think that will be a huge issue in itself, since Motos market share is below 5%, but if the others eg will have to wait 3 months extra for a new feature it will make them less competitive vs Apple and Nokia. The same effect will occur if new Android releases will have to run extra tests on Moto to make sure they run smoothly, etc.

I really don't understand where Google is heading here. Moto is not a strong player, and to me seems to be a classic stuck-in-the-middle case between the premium player Apple and the volume players Nokia and HTC.

Basically, I think Moto will slow down rather than speed up the Android development. It's strategically very, very difficult to be a competitor and key supplier/partner at the same time.


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