News is Google bought Motorola’s mobile phone business. My first reaction is Android wins a little, but is the loser on the long run. One should not underestimate the appeal of the fact that Google did not own a mobile phone business to device manufacturer, as BBC’s Tim Weber noted: ” To handset-makers, Microsoft’s new Windows Phone software will suddenly look quite attractive.”
Where does Android wins? Motorola’s patent portfolio will now be used to defend Android from patent attack. I have no doubt this is part of Google’s consideration when it buys the business. While there is no doubt that in a few years, Google will built up a portfolio of patents to defend Android, but that is not good enough because depends on Android surviving patents attack today. Its competition knows that and that is why they are attacking Android now. What Google seriously lack today is a back catalog of existing patents to defend Android. Nortel patents would be lovely, but Motorola’s will just have to be the consolation price.
Having a handset business also means Google will gain experience and be more closer in touch with the mobile scene. That can be only good for Android.
In the long run, however, one cannot help but to ask the question: How much will Google be biased towards Motorola’s need when it comes to designing future version of Android? Good business practice, such as surrendering Android to a foundation can help. IBM managed to do it with Eclipse. Right now, it is a dark cloud over other device manufacturers’ head.
Sure, one can argue that device manufacturer can simply fork Android and go their own way. However, the advantage of using Android is co-opetition (cooperate and competition). Going alone means losing the benefit of cooperation to reduce cost.
While it is true that Google’s open source nature makes it easier to adapt Android to the phone, an advantage Windows Phone at present don’t have although we can never say it will never have (or come close enough to it), I have doubt whether this advantage is big enough to offset the worry about Google taking Android into the direction manufacturers don’t like.
The future is definitely brighter for Microsoft Windows Phone future now. How bright will depend on Google’s next move. It better be a smart one.