Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

Summary: Google's $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility may make sense in theory - but it just feels off-track for the search and advertising giant.


When I first heard of Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, my initial reaction was to shake my head in disbelief. But then I read Larry Dignan's post that revealed six pretty strong reasons why the deal makes sense for Google.

Buying the patent portfolio makes sense. There's certainly some meat to the argument around hardware-software integration, aka The Apple Model. And the instant potential for Google TV with Motorola Mobility's set-top box business is intriguing.

But there's still something here that doesn't settle well for me. And I think it has to do more with Google than it does with Motorola Mobility.

This morning, I couldn't help but think back to Google's short-lived attempt at selling an Android device - the Nexus One - directly to consumers. The concept wasn't completely ridiculous when you considered that Google was trying to change the game by allowing consumers to choose a device first and then pick a carrier second. But Google wasn't equipped to sell mobile phones - which is still very much a touchy-feely experience - directly to consumers. For that, they need a branded, offline physical presence that they didn't have - and just as quickly as the company entered the game, it smartly retreated.

Granted, comparing that effort to the Motorola Mobility deal is kind of like comparing apples-to-oranges - but I still can't help but think that the hardware business is an area where Google doesn't belong.

Google makes great software - plain and simple. Whether it's a mobile OS or an update to Gmail or even some tweaks to YouTube, Google is known for what it does on the software side of the technology equation. But what does Google really know about the hardware game? Is Mountain View really ready to get into the manufacturing business, dealing with component vendors and factory issues and so on?

Yes, I realize that Motorola Mobility does know how to do this and that it will continue to operate as a standalone entity - just with a new parent company. But I just don't care for the way that Google tries to venture away from its core strengths. It started off as a search engine that quickly became an advertising powerhouse and then made a big play in mobile. That's fine - those all feel like natural progressions.

But this move just doesn't do it for me - especially because it turns hardware partners like HTC, LG and Samsung into instant competitors. One of the things I love about Android is the choice that comes with it. I can walk into a carrier's store and check out different Android phones - the Samsungs, the LGs, the HTCs and the Motorolas - and focus on things that are important to consumers, such as size, weight, camera and even touchscreen versus sliding keyboard.

At some point, will those stores only be stocking Motorola-branded Android phones?

Maybe I'm completely off my rocker here. Maybe Google is ready. Maybe this is a smart play that allows Google to control its own destiny the same way Apple has done over the years.

But as I think about Dignan's six reasons why this deal makes sense, I just can't seem shake my own feelings about why it doesn't.

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Topics: Banking, Google, Mobility, Security, Wi-Fi

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  • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

    Just wait it out, it will all work out in the end and things will be business as usual in the Android World when all of this shakes out.
    • Or not... Just saying there are pretty much

      @Peter Perry .. only two ways this can go and one of them is very bad indeed:P

      Pagan jim
      James Quinn
      • Industry knows that the only reason Google has for buying Motorola is ...

        @James Quinn: patents.

        Motorola's hardware business is ever struggling, going back and forth from losses to minimum profits.

        If not patents, Google would never ever want to drag themselves in this weak hardware business.

        This might mean that, with time, Google would want to either sell off hardware business of Motorola, or it will quietly die out on its own. The only thing that might tamper with this future is "social responsibility" for Motorola -- this will make Google dragging the dead/half-dead horse forever.
  • Wonder how this will pan out?

    People have said to me in the past that Google is morality superior to other companies. Stating that unlike an MS or Apple... Google does not sue over IP:). Well now that they have some I wonder? Also what of all the Andriod OEM's? Are they going to keep paying money into Google to finance Google's ability to compete against them? It's sort of like ths US declaring war on China and finding out we buy all our guns and ammo from China.... And there is no plans to stop this practice. I would think this will push many an OEM to take a harder look at WP7 for no matter how you feel about MS at least they don't actually MAKE their own phones to go head to head against their own OEM's.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

      @James Quinn There is a small difference - who will Samsung / HTC go to - WinMo/Nokia or WebOS/HP? Plus Samsung and HTC were under attack by Apple and such due to Android, so they will now be "better" protected - I don't think anyone knows how fully until the portfolio, including patents in progress, is evaluated. Plus, Google seems to be more of a company that wants to spread their reach, not control the entire ecosystem like Apple.
      • Better protected? No where near true

        @tbuccelli Assuming that Moto Mobile has any patents that can be actually use defensively and the other side hasn't licensed already, the only protection would be to MotoMob's products. All other Android OEMs are still liable for any patent violation in the Android OS.

        People keep forgetting that Google DOES NOT HAVE the right to re-license other people's patents and neither does MotoMob. The only way Google can really indemnify Android OEMs is if they pay the licenses and obtain a contract that legally allows them to re-license any patent to others.
  • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

    Google is an utter hypocritical company,the sooner the OEMS figure that out, the better for them.
    Its a matter of time Apple is going to kick google search/maps out and adopt Bing.

    Google doesn't make great software, most of them are pirated. What a shame !!! Some bloggers doesn't realise that.
    • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

      @owlnet Yeah, gMail, maps, etc are all pirated....
  • It's rapid cellular division.

    The forces are aligning and it's the Do Gooders vs Everyone Else.

    Not so much--seriously, it would appear that the pressure is on to buy up as many tech giants as possible so as to hoard/stockpile technology and patents as though it were ammunition.

    Well, it is ammo in a sense; only Google have a different design on using it than the other players.

    Expect Google to continue to 'do good' as time goes by including the possibility of putting key patents from MMI into OIN and folding juicy technology tidbits from MMI into their Android and Chrome operating systems all of which trickles or gushes downstream to phone and technology vendors alike to benefit them and reduce the risk of being sued.

    Google does good for human kind, continues. You go Sergey.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • I LOL's on that one

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      [i]Google does good for human kind, continues. You go Sergey[/i]

      William Farrell
      • No original thinking? Same situation different day.

        @William Farrell
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • Are you explaining you're post?

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate... Cause it sounded to me like you were explaining you're post too William there:P Just saying......

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • Oh that was just delightful Jim. You are too funny.

          @James Quinn
          And without even trying.
          Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

        @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate ,,, Still I have to admit i did make some effort at being funny there:P Don't want to give you the wrong impression after all:) You don't see me saying about myself "Do no evil" and expecting people to actually believe it do you? I'm way too honest and besides I like a healthy dose of evil now and again it's the spice of life!!!

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
    • OK, DTS. Come clean!

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate
      Eric Schmidt is really your son, isn't he? You just changed the spelling of your last name to throw folks off. Right? I can think of no other reason for someone to have such an over-the-top case of Google-worship. And it's likely you're the lone soul on this planet that sees the MotMob takeover as an altruistic gesture by the saints in the Googleplex!
    • Now I know you are not serious

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      Thanks for the great laugh. The do only evil company the do gooders. Great one.
    • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      So your shining light upon a hill is an advertising company who seems best at customising other people's software, lives in perpetual beta and brings out another failed product every 6 months or so.

      You did see Mad Men didn't you DTS? They've got a lot worse since the 60s ;-)
    • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      <I>"Google does good for human kind, continues. You go Sergey. "</I>

      If that isn't the biggest load of bull I have ever heard in my entire life.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • RE: Google and Motorola Mobility: Like skinny jeans on a linebacker, it's not a good fit

    I think Google just wanted the patents but Moto would only sell if they bought the whole company, so something tells me that after this deal goes through, the hardware side will be up for sale.
    • Hardware without the patents is useless

      @Shmythey Nobody will buy a hardware division without the patents that belong to it. Also, MotoMob spend 3 years in the deep red and only this year managed to barely make it into the black.