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Will the Google-Motorola Deal Actually Hurt Android?

Steven Blum
11

"Welcome to 2011. If you make technology, you will be sued."

This is one of the golden comments from the AndroidPIT forum on the reasons behind the Google-Motorola deal. Of course, the deal is seen as part of a defensive strategy for Google, who keeps on getting sued by Microsoft and Apple. Motorola may only hold around 3% of the market share but it has between 12,000 and 17,000 patents that'll be useful for Google in protecting themselves against future lawsuits. 

But how will this deal affect Google's relationship with other smartphone manufacturers? Samsung and HTC are smiling through gritted teeth because they can't so much as comment honestly on the acquisition lest they be seen as unsupportive of Google, but you better bet they're not exactly jumping for joy at the thought of Motorola possibly getting preferential treatment. Could this deal potentially weaken these OEM's commitment to the Android platform moving forward?

It's possible. After all, it'll be incredibly awkward for Google to approach these manufacturers after the deal has gone through. By entering the hardware business, Google has become a competitor, not just a software provider. This could create an opportunity for other software companies, specifically HP, and of course Microsoft and its Windows Phone 7 system, to begin marketing their products to Samsung and HTC.

And how will the deal affect smartphone innovation? It seems almost quaint that, a mere 5 months ago, 4.5 billion dollars was needed to secure those Nortel patents. Now that figure has nearly tripled to 12 billion dollars — all of which could have been spent on innovation, instead.

But, for now, patents seem to be more important to Google than coming up with the next great Android operating system, fixing Android Market's numerous bugs, pressuring manufacturers to ditch crap firmware or creating the next GMail. I'm not saying the patents mess is Google's fault, but it's a sad time when so much money is spent on something that doesn't help consumers at all. 

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Comments

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  • Alex Jagolny Aug 16, 2011 Link

    Sad indeed.

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  • Aaron Android Aug 16, 2011 Link

    it's a weird situation. Google is now both a competitor and a partner in software. that's a pretty strange set up....

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  • Peter Long Aug 16, 2011 Link

    This could be either great for Google or a total disaster. Really depends on how they play their cards.

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  • Foo S. Aug 16, 2011 Link

    more competition creates more innovation, so i wouldn"t be too worried

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  • Zhu Lee Aug 16, 2011 Link

    Google is just getting too big for its own good. When companies get too big - they burst. Typical boom and bust cycle.

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  • Lemar Williams Aug 16, 2011 Link

    Google is gonna continue being awesome no matter what.

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    Tobias Apel Aug 16, 2011 Link

    very good article!

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  • Fabien Roehlinger Aug 16, 2011 Link

    Good thoughts! And yes, it could be a possible thread. But I assume that HTC, Samsung and other big Android players have been involved before Google has closed the deal with Motorola. Actually, I believe that Goole is only interested in patents. Possibly Google will sell the rest to another player in a couple of months.

    Time will tell!

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  • Eric Dobis Aug 24, 2011 Link

    I can see the patents being resold with the agreement that Google can use them as needed. I would like to think this was a defensive move and that their focus will remain what they do best, provide some of the most innovative software and service ever.

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  • William Shaw Aug 24, 2011 Link

    I agree with Mr. Dobis, above. I see this as a rather (business/legal) necessary defensive move. Awkward for some involved, including Google, yes. But I don't see this as a shift in the overall game-plan for Google's Android. Google has every reason in the world to make nice with HTC and Samsung. Wouldn't you agree?

    Bill Shaw
    IP Attorney & New Media Developer

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  • ShowGirl at Kynitex Aug 24, 2011 Link

    Thanks Steven, you made it all clear. But why not google to have one more branch on its business with hardware? That seems natural for a huge corporation, doesn't it?

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