Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for August 15th, 2011

Google Motorola: The Razr’s Edge?

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I’m back from vacation, but judging from news the last week, I should have stayed at the beach!

Actually, returning home over the weekend wasn’t all bad, as I had the opportunity to see the PGA Championship play out in real time, and the final major of the year was a golfing feast. 

Tiger Woods missed the cut (one of the rare times) on Friday, and through the weekend PGA Tour newbie Keegan Bradley outplayed Jason Duffner in a three-hole playoff to win his first PGA tournament AND major.  It was some breathtaking stuff at the Atlanta Athletic Club, the last four holes of which would terrify even the most seasoned of golfers.

There was little such drama in other sports news, as the English Premier League kicked off its season over the weekend in spite of the recent riots in London. 

Last year’s EPL winner Manchester United came out roaring with a 2-1 win over West Bromwich (with striker Wayne Rooney making the first goal of the season for Man U…but not likely his last). I’m very happy to have English football back in action, even as American football season is around the corner.

But now it’s Monday, and it’s back to business –- particularly if you’re the Google, which this morning did some headline terrorizing of its own as it announced its $12+ billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility.

We’ll get to the substance of the deal in a moment, but let’s concentrate, for a moment, shall we, on form: Google CEO Larry Page made the announcement via a blog post in “The Official Google Blog.”

That’s what I love about Google.  No big fanfare or fancy hotels. 

Just a simple blog post from the CEO: Oh yeah, by the way, we’re making the largest acquisition we’ve made to date (nearly four times as large as their acquisition of DoubleClick), and we’re making it in a blog post and on a conference call.

No need for fancy hotel conference rooms and F2F hobnobbing with the press -– I’ve got a company to run and a major deal to oversee, and other bloggers will do the job for me in getting the word out!

So, what’s the general spin thus far?

  • This deal gives Google its own hardware play for the smartphone set, even as it strengthens Google’s ability to fend of patent wars by its competition by giving it control of the Motorola Android patent portfolio
  • Google gains some enterprise credibility as it works to marginalize RIM and Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft is left without a hardware partner at the mobility dance (and could be compelled to outright buy Nokia)
  • Google gets the added juice of Motorola’s cable TV platform, which considering the recent plight of Google TV, could be an added boost to help Google with its CATV advertising platform (although content licensing will continue to be an issue)

Questions inevitably arise as to whether or not the deal will past regulatory muster, but ReadWriteWeb’s Dan Rowinski suggests it will, mainly due to Apple’s incredibly strong position in the smartphone space. 

He writes:

There is no way that regulators can look at what Google makes from Android, the worldwide smartphone market and the juggernaut that Apple has become and say that Google’s acquisition of Motorola is in any way anti-competitive.

Will the deal be good for consumers?  In the short-term position, and strictly from a competitive standpoint, probably so.

But I sense another platform war heating up, one which is reminiscent of the OS wars of the late 1990s. 

Only this time, due to the proprietary nature of mobile smartphone and handset providers –- combined with the fact that the only viable options are iOS and Android (Windows Phone 7 and RIM QNX are way behind in smartphone share, by comparison) -– consumers may soon face a kind of Hobson’s choice, albeit with two choices as opposed to one.

In that scenario, consumers ultimately lose, because four choices would be better than two. 

But, the marketplace has spoken, and the race is on: iOS v. Android.  May the best platform win…but not by too much!

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