August 15th saw an Independence Day of an unexpected kind, with Google declaring that it would be buying Motorola Mobility – a deal that will make it a major hardware player in the smartphone business, allow it to spearhead the course of Android handset development and give it access to the wealth of patents the 82-year-old company has developed and amassed in its long and chequered history.
The new of the deal comes not too long after Google lost out on the Nortel Patent Portfolio – an estimated 6,000 telecommunication and other patents which were finally acquired by a consortium of companies including Apple, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research In Motion and Sony. The Google-Motorola acquisition is also seen as a way to bolster Google, the Android platform, and Android licenses against the numerous “anti-competitive patent attacks” that Apple and Microsoft have recently launched.
The implications of the deal are numerous, the biggest being Google’s possible alienation of its Android handset partners. Google’s CEO, Larry Page, was quick to point out however that Google would still be looking to maintain its relations with these partners – and that Motorola wouldn’t be given any sort of insider advantage compared to its Android rivals.
Page insists that Android will remain an open platform and that Motorola will just be one more Android licensee. Motorola will be treated as a separate business, he claims.
In the meanwhile, Microsoft, the developer of Windows Phone 7 – one of the biggest rivals of Android, iOS, and BlackBerry mobile operating systems – has seen its stock prices shoot up after the deal, with market watchers sure that Google’s move would cause handset manufacturers to concentrate on developing their WP7 line-ups to reduce the number of eggs in the Android basket, and protect themselves from competition from the Google-Motorola team.