Motorola Mobility: More Than Patents

I am a huge Google fan and a huge fan of Android OS. While I admit that the iPhone changed the smartphone market (how could I not), I still think that iOS leaves a lot to be desired, and that Android is a far superior mobile OS for many reasons.

However, a lot of people have trouble seeing that because of what the tech world now calls fragmentation – the fact that Android is on so many different devices. This has proven to be a challenge for Google because you may get a subpar device running Android, which reflects poorly on the OS. It’s for this reason (mainly) that I’m excited about the recent deal for Google to purchase Motorola’s mobile arm, Motorola Mobility.

The big focus when the deal was announced was on patents: specifically, on how Google is improving its patent portfolio. This is understandable since Apple is waging a patent war against several companies, including Google. But I don’t think this was the main reason for the purchase.

See, Google until recently has been a software company, and a web-based one at that. Now they are building systems for mobile phones, tablets, TVs, and laptops. It would be very beneficial for them to start making their own consumer electronics. The Nexus One is a perfect example of this.

The Nexus Series

Google’s first solution to combating fragmentation and the stigma that Android devices are subpar was to contract an outside hardware maker – HTC – to make a phone running Android to exactly their specifications. That phone, and its predecessor, the Nexus S, were by most accounts great phones. And I’m really excited about the recently (and unofficially) announced Droid Prime, the next phone is Google’s Android phone series. This also seems like it’s going to be a great phone. But Google needs more than that.

You see, Google designing a phone and contracting it out isn’t the same as Google making a phone. With the purchase of Motorola Mobility, Google now has a company that makes consumer electronics. This gives Google a bit more control (not to mention profit) over the whole process.

And this isn’t just something they can do with phones. They can do the same thing with tablets for Honeycomb and Ice Cream Sandwich, TVs/TV boxes for Google TV, and maybe even laptops for Chromebooks. With Google making so many hardware dependent software systems now, it was imperative that Google make a purchase like this. Look at the iPhone: Software by Apple, hardware by Apple, and just about everything that has to do with the iPhone is controlled by Apple. Google now has that capability.

A Real Google Phone

Here’s my point: with Google purchasing Motorola Mobility, they can now make a true Google phone, a phone that Android was meant to run on, and where Google has final say on the software and the hardware. It will be Google’s equivalent to the iPhone, and I think it will be great.

While there are some great phones out there, aside from the Nexus One and S you’re not getting a true Android experience. You’re getting Android skinned, or Android with bloatware (I’m looking at you, HTC Sense). A Google phone won’t have any of that, and I think people will finally see what I’ve been saying for years: that Android is a great mobile OS, even better than iOS.

As for the Great Patent War of 2011, yes, Google added about 25,000 patents to its portfolio; but I truly believe that was a secondary (or tertiary) reason. Some patent experts even believe it was “an immense mistake. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s clear that Google had other motivations.

When Google CEO Larry Page announced the purchase he stated,

Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers.

If this wasn’t clear enough, more recently Google Executive Chairman (and former CEO) Eric Schmidt said, “[We enjoy] having at least one area where we can do integrated hardware and software.” Hint hint.

Conclusion

Like I said earlier, I’m very excited for the marriage of Google and Motorola Mobility. I think it means that we will finally see a real Google Phone that will run Android as it was meant to be run: with great hardware and no bloatware. We’ll also get to see how Google handles selling consumer electronics. It will be a little tricky, but I think Google has learned a lot over the years since Android first hit the market, and I can’t wait to see how they apply what they’ve learned. Google’s mobile unit will be an even greater force to be reckoned with now.