Back in August, we learned that Google was interested in acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. Initially, we thought this would affect their relationship with other patent manufacturers. However, that belief was quickly amended after a handful of OEMs came forward, expressing that they all "welcomed" the news.
Long term, this could still affect their partnerships. Both Samsung and HTC, two of the biggest Android manufacturers here in the States, have shown interest in other platforms since the announcement of the acquisition. But it is unknown whether those instances are related to Google's buyout of Motorola Mobility.
On the upside, through the acquisition, Google will also get their hands on Motorola's 17,000 or so mobile-related patents. Google's partner OEMs have been under a lot of fire for the past two years, finding themselves on the receiving end of patent infringement suits from both Apple and Microsoft. And turns out, Google's "free" and open source platform comes at a cost: licensing fees. By acquiring Motorola's patents and lumping them with their own, the idea is that Google can fight back and better protect their hardware makers.
The problem is, the two companies will be under close watch and limited as to the shots they can fire back at Microsoft and Apple.
"... because of the importance of the mobile industry and the issues involving IP rights and antitrust law, it'll [DOJ Antitrust Division] be keeping a close eye on the use of standards-essential patents. If any firm attempts to use those patents in an anticompetitive manner, the DOJ won't hesitate to intervene."
That doesn't mean the acquisition will be in vain, though. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt admitted that Google is interested in Motorola not only for their patents, but also for hardware. Google wants to try their hand at vertical integration, presumably more so than with previous Nexus devices. This leaves a lot of open space for new devices and possibilities. Here are just a few things I'm hoping will come of the buyout:
I've expressed my love for stock Android time and time again. That's not to say that custom interfaces shouldn't exist. They just aren't for me. I find them overbearing and full of problems – more so than stock Android, at least. With Google working more closely with Motorola (remember, they said Motorola would still operate as a separate company) and looking to more closely integrate hardware with software, we can hope that it will bring more stock phones to market.
I don't want every future Nexus device to be made by Motorola, obviously. And I don't think they will be. But I would love for there to be more stock devices to choose from. If nothing else, we could hope that Google will provide pure stock software options to users, even if Motorola devices come with MAP.
A huge benefit of vertical integration with Moto phones will (hopefully) be faster turnaround time on updates. At the very least, it will remove the need for pointless excuses as for why updates take so long. Again, if Google could provide a stock software update option to users, official updates could be ready for Motorola devices within weeks of AOSP releasing.
Here's to hoping ...
Not all aspects of Motorola's custom interfaces are bad. In fact, many individual pieces are great, and Google should recognize that. I would love to see features like Motorola's Smart Actions and Webtop applications baked into stock Android.
I know it's a long shot, as features like this are what give Motorola a bit of differentiation from other manufacturers. But once Motorola is owned by Google, seeing additional features like these in Android itself is not outside the realm of possibility.
It's no secret or surprise that the patent suits have gotten out of hand lately. Apple sues HTC. HTC counter sues Apple. Motorola sues Apple. Microsoft sues every Android manufacturer under the sun. And so on and so forth. While Google and Co. will be limited as to how they can fire back, they will at least have some extra defense. Hopefully Motorola has a few useful patents that will prevent any more unwarranted injunctions and everyone can move forward and start innovating again instead of childishly pointing fingers and crying to Uncle Sam.
Motorola definitely has a lot of stuff going on, like the Golden-i and their first Intel-based phone. It will certainly be interesting to see exactly what Google's plans are for the company once the acquisition gets finalized. Tell me, readers. What do you hope will come of the buyout? New and improved hardware? More stock phones? The death of Motorola's lackluster interface customizations? Do you hope the deal falls through? (Though unlikely, it's still a possibility.) Give us your thoughts below!