The general theme of many articles talking about Google’s purchase of Motorola believe it may be a strategic mistake. Here are some interesting quotes from Forbes:
While putting on a brave face, Google has triggered alarm bells for the growing number of handset and tablet manufacturers–like HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson–that rely on Android to power their devices. Will these Google partners now turn to competitors? True, Google swears it will operate Motorola as an independent business and won’t favor the house brand over other licensees. It’s a good line, if not all that convincing.
Further, what does Google know about making hardware? It has no carrier relationships or a supply chain or any other accoutrements of a modern handsetmaker. It can’t rely on Motorola for all of that; Motorola’s struggles to stay relevant in the handset business led the company to split into two pieces and made Mobility vulnerable to an acquisition. Owning a hardware company will also result in lower company margins–online ads are a lot more profitable business than smartphones. Some analysts have speculated that the hardware business could be sold off to an Asian handset buyer in a deal analogous to IBM’s sale of the ThinkPad unit to Lenovo. But Google certainly won’t include patents in a potential sale, which makes a sale a lot less appealing.
I think Google’s move might cause some handsetmakers to seek alternatives to Android. Carriers, no doubt, would be happy to have a third strong alternative to Apple and Android phones.
There is also some debate as to the value of the patents picked up relative to the ongoing assault on Android.