In the wake of the Google and Motorola tsunami, Amazon and HP should consider marriage vows

In the wake of the Google and Motorola tsunami, Amazon and HP should consider marriage vows

Summary: With Google and Motorola controlling Android for smartphones and tablets, Amazon and HP should consider teaming up with Asian ODMs to form a webOS alliance.


My, what a difference a weekend makes.

Yesterday morning, Google announced its intention to buy Motorola Mobility, for a cool $12.5 Billion, pending regulatory approval.

And to think I was worried about having nothing to write about this week! HA!

Suffice it to say that this move has changed everything in the smartphone and tablet industry, literally overnight. It transforms Google into an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of consumer products, just like Apple is with its iPhone and iPad.

Google of course is communicating this as a pure patent and intellectual property play, as it would be acquiring 24,000+ patents in the deal.

But we know that this essentially turns Motorola into most favored nation as it relates to Android handset and tablet manufacturing, even though it intends to run Motorola as a separate company and has stated that it will continue with its Open Handset Alliance and continue to license Android to companies like HTC, Samsung, Acer and Asus.

However, it's much more likely that at some time in the future all Android handsets are going to be branded as "Google Droids" regardless of who the actual Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) is.

Motorola can still work with Samsung and HTC in their traditional roles as contract manufacturers, as it works with a number of ODMs in Asia to produce their products already.

The only difference is that instead of many different Android phone brands and models, there will eventually be one brand, one product line. Droid.

Under this New World Order, as brands, I find it unlikely that companies like HTC and Samsung will continue to have Android products of their own by using the Open Source and unlicensed versions of Android, even though this is something that they could still elect to do on their own.

I expect Google to clamp down on the licensing of the "Google Experience" version of the OS and reserve that exclusively for Motorola's or Google' own branded products.

For consumers and the ODMs themselves, this is probably a good thing. It permanently resolves the Android fragmentation issue that has been dogging the platform for so long. Samsung and HTC probably will not care how they make their money in this business, provided that there is a revenue stream to be had for contract manufacturing and components.

It also eliminates them as litigation targets if Google and Motorola are going to be taking all of the Android litigation heat from now on if their names are on all the products.

So when they aren't acting as contract manufacturers or component suppliers for Google/Motorola, what will they be doing then? Well, I suspect they will have to make devices that run other operating systems.

Microsoft's Windows Phone and Windows 8 are certainly obvious choices for both HTC and Samsung for additional revenue streams. Acer, Asus and the other minor players may find themselves with licenses of Android for some time, only to find themselves cut off later on and having to seek other options.

Such as HP's WebOS.

Even when I have criticized HP heavily, I still maintain that Palm's WebOS 3 is an excellent operating system, this despite the fact that I feel that the TouchPad has not been a particularly good good showcase for it nor has it been able to demonstrate superior value to Apple's iPad.

This can be fixed. However it requires that HP let go of WebOS and allow companies which are much more skilled at marketing and product design to take it and run with it.

The way I see it going is something like this. HP acts as the technology foundry for WebOS, and possibly Open Sourcing important parts of the OS, including the Luna GUI.

In lieu of Google and Apple hammering them in brick and mortar retail with superior firepower, where they are suffering for attention at places like Best Buy, that the company partners with a large e-tailer giant: Amazon.

Amazon acting as HP's primary retail partner has several purposes. One, to provide not only the sales and distribution network for WebOS tablets and phones, but to also provide the cloud services and content that WebOS desperately needs in terms of music, video, storage and ebooks.

If it's one thing that Amazon knows it's marketing, online sales and Cloud. And it knows how to work with Asian ODMs and their supply chains, as evidenced by their success with Kindle e-readers.

Thirdly, Amazon would also be the primary brand of WebOS devices. This would mean of course that Amazon would have to abandon or curtail its existing strategy with its Amazon Appstore for Android and its plan to produce Android Tablets.

In the wake of this entire Google/Motorola tsunami, I think that Bezos and crew probably needs to re-think whether Amazon wants to work with unlicensed/Open Source versions of Android for its products, or to become the most favored nation for WebOS.

If I were Jeff Bezos right now, I would strongly be considering the latter. And if I were Leo Apotheker, I would be courting Bezos with heavy incentives to do so, such as giving Amazon a big piece of the action with WebOS application sales.

I have no idea and under what terms Amazon may have decided to implement Android on its forthcoming tablet, since very few details of this device actually exist in the public and much of it is rumored.

That being said, I have recently speculated that they may be releasing a product that uses a heavily modified version of "Gingerbread" which is currently the only Open Source implementation of Android.

It's certainly possible that behind the scenes, prior to all of this Google/Motorola seismic activity, that Amazon managed to secure a multi-year licensing deal with Google. But my gut instinct is that they have not. And that leaves quite a bit of exposure for Amazon.

Should Hewlett-Packard, Amazon and the Asian ODMs team up to form an alliance and an alternative to Google and Motorola's New World Order for Android? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobility, Operating Systems, Tablets


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

    Jason... I actually like your idea here. Although I wasn't particularly fond of your bashing of the webOS-Internals community from a previous article of yours, I do see you point on this grand-scale opportunity for HP. I certainly hope that Jon Rubenstein can flex his corporate muscle and influence on the Amazon board and get something done for HP's webOS. <img border="0" src="" alt="happy">
    Matt Nawrocki
    • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

      @mattrock1988 I never bashed the webOS Internals community. My criticism was of HP for taking advantage of them unfairly. I do not believe sending those folks a few token TouchPads/Pres and buying them a $10,000 server equates to the millions of dollars worth of software engineering expertise they are getting in return.
      • Anyway, this deal might not change much for others since Motorola's ...

        @jperlow: ... hardware business is ever struggling, going from losses to minimum profits.

        The industry knows that the only reason Google has for buying Motorola is patents. Otherwise they would <b>never ever</b> 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.
      • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

        @jperlow That's how open source works. People contributing to openSUSE don't feel exploited when Novell/Attachmate sells SLED and SLES versions. Linux kernel contributors aren't complaining that Google should pay them money. Heck, Sims 3 players don't feel that EA should reimburse them for the reams of skins, objects and hacks that they create and put online. On the contrary, they're thankful to EA for making the product as open and moddable as it is. The developer makes the product open and customizable and in exchange people create custom content which extends play time/value and improves the end user experience. While the Sims isn't open source, it is achieving part of the open source philosophy with this type of design... let anyone improve it, but everyone has to benefit from the improvement.
        HP made a very geek-friendly product (no cost to be a developer; no need to use an HP computer to develop on; much more open; no need to jailbreak or root, etc.) and is letting geeks do what geeks do in return. The same type of activity takes/took place in the Maemo/Meego communities with the Nokia N700, N800, N810 UMPCs and N900 phone.
  • Why form an alliance for WebOS products when there is Microsoft?

    It makes better sense for Amazon to embrace the MS ecosystem when Win 8 ARM based tablets arrive next year and drop Android all together.

    I only say that because of the immense size of the MS ecosystem vs the nascent WebOS app ecosystem. Just a thought.
    • But HP might give them a better offer

      As for exactly the reasons you're saying.

      It would also brand it better, just not another Android or Windows tablet.

      They could probally make it their own, as Amazon does have that clout. Look at the Kindle.
      William Farrell
      • Money does rule over prudence in Big Business

        @William Farrell

        If, as you say, HP makes Amazon an offer Amazon can't refuse than this proposed business alliance between the two companies would make "initial sense". But would it be a long term profitable venture? I'm glad I'm not calling the shots on that prospect.
    • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner


      That idea is dead with the words "arrive next year." Amazon isn't going to go wait around and hope that Microsoft finally executes on something mobile that its failed at over the last 12 years or more.
  • They need Yahoo instead of Amazon.

    If I am HP with WebOS, I'd rather work with Yahoo as partner. They have the content readily available (news, quote...) and online services which are global scale without the time needed to to build an entire new infrastructural to host user contents. <br><br>HP itself already have a wider if not better distribution channel when compared with Amazon, especially in overseas markets where Amazon has zero presences in most Asian countries.<br><br>I never liked the idea of HP buying Palm then ditch the brand so quickly, while did not invest cash rewards to keep those talents designers and engineers from leaving the company for Apple and Google. With the very failed tablet industrial design which shows that HP did not leverage their expertise from designing the ProBook line. <br><br>Man, I wish HTC brought Palm instead.
    Kit Yeung
    • Yahoo is a dead-man-walking company

      @Kit Yeung HP needs a solid company and Yahoo is not it.

      Maybe 10 years ago, I would had agreed with you. But sadly, Yahoo hasn't done anything worth looking at in years. If anything, their products are either getting canned or getting wost .... like the web email interface ... it may be better looking, but functionality wise it is WORST than before.
    • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

      @Kit Yeung

      News and Quote services are a dime a dozen. People don't really too much about that content. It's multimedia that people want.

      Every tablet has news and quote apps already.
  • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

    I think this is a good thing. Like you, I have an original Motorola Droid, and I happen to like the original Android "experience" without the various manufacturer "embellishments" and permanently installed crapware. Unfortunately, the Nexus line of phones is not something I can afford. So, perhaps there is a chance that soon, Nexus will be an official phone offered in the VZW store with the "Google Andorid Experience" not the Motorloa/Samsung/LG/HTC experience.
    • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner


      I switched to the Nexus S a while back by going through Best Buy when I changed from AT&T to T-Mobile (just before the announcement!). It was only $99.00. A friend just switched also for her and her son and both got the Nexus S. It's a top-notch device and has zero crapware on it. T-Mobile has great coverage everywhere I go (even to northern Arizona). Unlimited data for as little as $10.00/month. For me, this has been a great move. Unfortunately, looking a year or two out, I'm sure that AT&T will muck things up!

      As for Google and Moto, this is a very good match and I hope that the patents give Google the room to continue innovating while others are litigating their way into the history books (remember Lotus??)
  • What a load

    Your favorite companies backed them into a corner... They make their best effort to get themselves out of the corner by acquiring patents by which they can protect Android and your response is to make up lies about their intentions?

    Seriously? when have they done something like this in the past? They simply have not done the opposite of what they said they were doing and that's reality.

    Also, they would not jeopardize their current partners relationship nor the future of Android so they can be *GASP* Apple!
    • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

      @Peter Perry

      If only Google had purchased Sun instead of effing Oracle!!
      • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

        Then they could integrate their spyware into all Java, not just the version they bastardised for Android. No thanks. Oracle makes their money by selling software, not by spying on their users (products).
  • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

    Great idea. HP WebOS-great software with OK hardware. The other Hardware vendors should be able to do much better with their offerings. The consumer will again suffer with delayed updates. That always seems to be the side-effect of such licensing deals.
  • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

    Excellent ideas. HP should partner with Samsung and or HTC for hardware in addition to HP hardware ASAP. Amazon should add the WebOS application store, WebOS Cloud and WebOS Kindle (which is excellent on the TouchPad already).
  • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

    "However, it?s much more likely that at some time in the future all Android handsets are going to be branded as ?Google Droids? regardless of who the actual Original Design Manufacturer (ODM) is."

    Why is that more likely?
    Google makes its money from ads, why would they want to discourage handset manufacturers from using Android?
    It sounds more like wishful thinking to me. Another attempt to revive WebOS.
  • RE: In wake of Google-Motorola, Amazon, HP and Asian ODMs should partner

    Why do the OEM's need to change anything. They get patent protection and its no different than sony and samsung selling Windows laptops. Do they differentiate there...NO.