Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

Summary: Apple, Google, RIM and HP all have integrated mobile stacks. Does this spell doom or opportunity for Microsoft and Windows Phone 7?

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Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility casts doubts on the role of third party operating systems in the mobile market as Apple, Research in Motion and Google all have hardware and software stacks.

How this adventure turns out will be quite telling. There are two routes here. Either integrated stacks ---Apple and iOS, Google with Android and Motorola Mobility, RIM with QNX and BlackBerry OS and HP's WebOS--- dominate as they do today and win the wireless war. Or there's a huge opportunity for Microsoft.

The turning points in this debate will largely revolve around the moves of Google's Android partners such as HTC and Samsung and Microsoft.

Also: Google's $12.5 billion Motorola Mobility bet: 6 reasons why it makes sense

For instance, if Microsoft moves to acquire Nokia and/or RIM then the mobile debate is over. All critical mobile players will have their own hardware and software stacks complete with app marketplaces and services. The panic move for Microsoft would be to buy a beaten up RIM, which makes great hardware, but hasn't quite got the software thing down yet.

Could Google's $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility really prod Microsoft to do something drastic? You don't need much time to think here. Microsoft tried to buy Yahoo in a case of Google envy didn't it?

Microsoft's calculus about whether it makes sense to buy a hardware maker or go it alone largely depends on what Samsung and HTC do. Just last week, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha was publicly ruminating about working with Microsoft on Windows Phone 7. Those comments were clearly designed to get Google to spend a little more on Motorola Mobility.

Should HTC and Samsung move away from Android---an unlikely scenario in the short term given Google just gave the Android community patent cover---the only options would be Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and HP's WebOS, which could be licensed.

My bet: Hardware players look to Microsoft or consolidate. Despite the initial patent perks of Google acquisition, it's likely that the search giant will have the best integration on Motorola devices. That means HTC and Samsung may play second fiddle in the future. And as Henry Blodget noted at Business Insider, the Google-Motorola Mobility deal has some serious channel conflict issues that could backfire.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will give HTC and Samsung any terms they want. In the end, Windows Phone 7 may do well merely as a hedge against Google.

It's hard to believe that the mobile market will be devoid of third party operating systems, but today the deck looks stacked. That stacked deck may mean a lot of Microsoft opportunity ahead.

[poll id="279"]

Around the network coverage:

ZDNet:

CNET:

Topics: Samsung, Google, Security, BlackBerry, Operating Systems, Mobility, Mobile OS, Microsoft, HTC, Hardware, Wi-Fi

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25 comments
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  • Finally a well thought out piece.

    Good look into the future instability this creates. This buys HTC nothing except protection from Apple. Sammy is building and growing Bada and this gives them an out.
    Bruizer
  • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

    Google just made Microsoft's job of selling WP7 a lot easier<br> . Who is going to buy hardware that won't receive updates in a timely matter from the other providers and<br> has hardware that wasn't built around the OS. I think we'll see Samsung, Sony, and HTC slowly make a bigger commitment to WP7.
    biobiobio
    • Sadly enough, I agree

      @biobiobio nt
      wackoae
    • yes, because WP7 OS updates have just been flying off the shelves..

      @biobiobio ..and their software updates have been smooth as silk.. c'mon man.. i see your point about OEM jumping off the android ship but.. WP7 and MS are not anywhere near surefooted yet and are still probably about 2years behind android and iOS in terms of features, apps and eccosystem..
      doctorSpoc
      • a lot better than Androids fragmented mess

        @doctorSpoc <br><br>Mango update this fall will put them on the same level in terms of features. So that won't be an issue for much longer.<br><br>MS's eco-system is much bigger than Android and even Apple. They just haven't integrated it well in the past. But they are changing that with WP7, Win8, Xbox, Office 365, etc. (WP7 app marketplace is growing at faster rate than iPhone or Android did)<br><br>MS's update this Spring was a little rough, but it played out fine. At least everyone got the update unlike Android.
        spaulagain2
    • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

      They are already making Windows Phones. The problem is, nobody's buying them.<br><br>And doesn't legal protection from patent lawsuits greatly outweigh the risk of getting the latest version of the OS slightly later?<br>Google started making phones a year ago with the Nexus One, and it doesn't seem to have hurt their partners. Or made anyone jump ship to Microsoft.
      Theli
      • Because they aren't being pushed to the level of Android

        @Theli
        Verizon has one WP7. Not because nobody wants to make a WP7, but their investments been in Android capable handsets, from the very expensive, to mostly the very cheap.

        There's a better profit margin in pushing low end Android phones, and WP7 isn't designed for the cheap, low end market.

        And now everyone's feeling the "Android Pinch", and WP7 is looking a little better.

        I'm thinking this is good for MS. Funny, just a couple of days that Google's #1 Android partner makes some disparaging remarks about Android and mentioning the "M Word", Google quickly closes the deal.
        William Farrell
  • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

    I think that WP7 is grossly underestimated and I fear that anyone who underestimates Microsoft may be suddenly surprised by what they can create. Most people have not even tried WP7 and most people who I have shown it to instantly love it. If Microsoft aquires Nokia I think Google and Apple with both have much to worry about. Nokia makes some great hardware and the new WP7 OS is quite good and is about to get even better with Mango. I just have a problem counting MS out of the competition, they are fierce fighters.
    aspnetmvcoder
    • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

      @aspnetmvcoder
      Why should Microsoft buy Nokia when Nokia already plan to make Windows Phones?
      illegaloperation
      • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

        @day2die - For the same reason Google just agreed to buy Motorola Mobility!
        NPGMBR
    • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

      @aspnetmvcoder<br><br>Not to mention Microsoft's partnerships with Facebook and all the services and products they own that they could integrate into WP7. Microsoft is probably the only company that CAN challenge Android and iOS.<br><br>I think the problem with Microsoft in general and with WP7 specifically is perception. They are an old company and Windows is an old product (even if it has a new look).<br>And this is an area where I don't think Nokia will do much to help. They are also considered an old company. Partnering with Nokia will surely bump Microsoft's market share, but I wonder how long that will last, considering Nokia itself is currently in free-fall.
      Theli
      • Nokia's in free fall for the same reason any company

        @Theli
        that says "we're close to putting out the new stuff" sales drop - Who's going to pay for a $500 phone today, when 5 months down the road they'll likely see the first of the new WP7 models?

        Apple goes through the same thing. Look at the slow in PC sales when Windows 7 was anounced to be released - just a couple of month wait got you Windows 7 instead of Windows Vista on pretty much the same hardware!
        William Farrell
  • i see this as a great opportunity for HP if they are smart..

    if HP could approach just the top tier players like HTC and Samsung (so as not to cheapen the brand like has happened with Android) and licence WebOS to just them.. i think they would go for it especially give the present situation.. HTC is already paying licensing for android to MS and others why not just license WebOS and get some exclusivity and differentiation that android doesn't provide.. they could even just make their crap phones still use android and their high end phones use webOS for even more differentiation within their brand..

    I honestly don't see Windows phone going anywhere.. it's a good OS but their is just no traction.. i REALLY see it truly going to end up the Zune phone.. maybe Nokia can do something with it overseas, but i have my doubts.. but i see Nokia and MS running into the sunset (or ditch) together..

    HP's Jon Rubenstein needs to get the ax (guess he's already been relieved of the day to day reins) because he just unwilling to understand and give people what they want in terms of hardware.. apparently he had some tif with Job's about HW keyboard on the iPhone and that's why he left Apple.. he was proved wrong at Palm and again going to be proved wrong at HP... the market has spoken.. HP is really in need of some HW vision and 3rd parties might be able to help them out.. their OS is great.. HW is garbage!
    doctorSpoc
    • WP7 will gain traction

      @doctorSpoc <br><br>People who don't think it will have traction are short sighted and don't see what is coming down the pipeline. MS is on a very steady course that will unify their eco-sytem with WP7, Xbox, and Win8.<br><br>When you count the partnerships they have made with Facebook, Skype, plus their products that already have a large footprint like Office/Outlook, and the cloud, they will win the market because WP7 will become a no-brainer decision. The Outlook functionality currently on my WP7 already destroys what you can do on Android or iPhone.<br><br>I think Google's purchase will actually damage the strength of Android in the future. It almost seems to be a self-defeating move. One that was meant to defend themselves in lawsuit cases. However, the shield they chose to use isn't that good anyways. Now they may risk alienating the other manufacturers which will kill the primary reason it has saturated the market so quickly.
      spaulagain2
    • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

      @doctorSpoc HP's problem is with the applications availability. Just like the Windows Phone, people don't buy computing devices for the operating system, they buy them for the things that they can do. Like Microsoft, HP really needs to get either an Android compatibility layer, or seriously promote HTML5 development.

      I would prefer the HTML5 approach.
      YetAnotherBob
  • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

    Everything Google do is a bad move according to ZDnet. I've yet to read on ZDnet "Good Move Google".

    PS. And I don't expect to either.
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • This is the only article to even question GOOG's move.

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      So 1 article in 10 (a bit of exaggeration) questioning this move is <i>"Everything Google do is a bad move according to ZDnet"</i>?
      Bruizer
  • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

    It doesn't matter what Microsoft does because they have to have a worthy OS to compete in the mobile segment. Current windows phone 7 is not an acceptable mobile player. Their new edition doesn't seem so great either, but that remains to be seen. Everyone loves android and I see it staying thst way. HTC has no problem selling handets. Everyone wants HTC sense, and it doesn't matter what Google does with their own phones because none of then have been big sellers.
    Jimster480
    • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

      @Jimster480

      Motorola has made some excellent phones in the past. They have also made some terrible blunders in the past. Mostly away from their core expertise in radio and telephone communications. The satellite deal, for instance, or the eight Billion dollar deal to finance a wireless infrastructure in one of the 'stans after Russia self destructed. That's why they ended up selling the chip business.

      But, if Google can get the Motorola groups that created some of the great phones of the past 10 years to keep it up, and if they don't try to make Motorola into a one trick pony, then this could work out. Motorola will make the Google branded phones, and still make the Motorola branded phones. Android will still be developed by a diverse community, and not go to Motorola first.

      But all of that must happen for this to work. i wonder if Google can really pull this off?
      YetAnotherBob
  • RE: Google's Motorola acquisition: Is there a role for third party mobile operating systems?

    This is going to be a great opportunity for Microsoft's WP7. Once the other hardware makers realize Google is holding back from them they will flock to WP7. This is actually going to turn out great.
    LoverockDavidson