Discussion about
ryan

August 16th 2011 7:13 pm

Six things consumers can expect from Google acquiring Motorola

There's no shortage of great industry analysis about the Google / Motorola deal (and for some of the best, check out Peter's piece here: gdgt.com­/discuss­/11­-thoughts­-on­-google­-buying­-moto...). I wanted to throw my two cents in on what we, as consumers, can likely expect to see.

1. Motorola devices will be the new stock Android experience, or: goodbye MOTOBLUR.

Since the Nexus One, Google's done a pretty good job of trying to have at least a few devices on the market with the "stock" Android experience. As a side note, these are almost invariably my favorite devices. (Sorry, manufacturers!) If you're anything like me in that regard, good news, because you can probably expect to see a steady stream of these devices to flowing out of Motorola, and that's a damned good thing. Even better? You can probably kiss MOTOBLUR goodbye.

2. Expect plenty of of carrier unlocked -- maybe even bootloader unlocked -- devices.

Google made it pretty clear when it launched the original Nexus One that they envisioned a future where SIM locked devices are a thing of the past, and devices can run on any network. Granted, that vision didn't exactly pan out; tail between legs, Google shuttered its Android phone store that sold all those great unlocked, contract-free devices. Well, with its own in-house hardware division, I think Google's finally going to push ahead to out-open HTC, who has recently lead the pack in manufacturer-sanctioned carrier and bootloader unlocking.

3. NFC is in.

Controlling at least one major hardware player in the Android ecosystem means Google can push harder on new initiatives manufacturers have been slow to adopt, like its NFC-based mobile payments system, Google Wallet. This seems like a pretty obvious slam dunk, if you ask me.

Disclaimer: I do a little unrelated consulting work for MasterCard on its mobile and Google Wallet stuff.

4. Moto's low-end dumphones and featurephones are not long for this world.

One only need take a look at Moto's phone lineup over the last year or two to see this was already well underway. But I think it's fair to expect that the company's low-end and featurephone lines will dry up pretty quickly under Google, not unlike (albeit probably faster than) the rest of the industry's non-smartphone lines. As for low-end smartphones based on Android? Well, that's still a pretty big opportunity then, isn't it?

5. If it isn't mobile, Google-Motorola probably won't be doing it for much longer.

Lots has already been said about the part of Motorola Mobility's business that ISN'T Android-based smartphones and tablets: namely, their line of (incredibly crappy) set top boxes, and high-end video processing and video security products. This stuff probably does pretty decently for Moto's bottom line, but it's hard to see Google wanting to continue on with this stuff forever. Sooner or later, it's either going to get the axe, or more likely be chopped up and sold off to someone else who actually wants to be in that business.

6. Either Motorola becomes Android's highly integrated hardware division -- or it becomes to Google what Nextel became to Sprint

The stories of the utterly insane dysfunction within Sprint after acquiring Nextel in 2004 are now legendary. The two companies remained distant both physically and culturally, the whole thing wound up making both businesses worse off, with Sprint eventually having to write down about $30 billion on the whole thing. Now, while I really like the idea of the Android team having a tightly knit hardware unit, the details don't add up here. Google is a very Valley-centric company with an incredibly unique culture -- one that looks, feels, and acts absolutely nothing like Motorola. That's not a good or bad thing, it's just the reality of the matter.

On so many levels it makes no sense for Google to run Android from HQ in California while its Android hardware (aka Motorola) is run from Illinois. If you ask me, either Moto's going to wind up packing up and moving west, or (less likely) Android's going to pack up and move east. But sooner or later something's going to give. This thing is either going to be an amazing success -- or a colossal failure. That much we'll only know in a few years.

sort by

42 replies
FarmHand

If they are going to drop STB's, then why did they recently buy SageTV? Motorola STB + GoogleTV 2.0 + SageTV is a pretty nice device. Plus they could drop the Microsoft software that they run on the current STB's.
3 like dislike
thecybernerd

Yeah I think Google is going to use Motrolas STB assets and customers to really push Google TV.
3 like dislike
ryan

I'd say maybe -- at best. We'd all like to imagine this thing could blow up and Google TV will be in all our cableco set top boxes, but I think the reality is that vision will take 5+ years at a minimum to execute. (For precedent, just look at TiVo's vision of putting its software in STBs around the country -- I think it's in its second decade now?) Cable companies are notoriously conservative when it comes to rolling out new software or hardware that might threaten its existent models or relationships with networks. Add onto that the fact that Google TV is already on life support, and I'm gonna call it DOA. That said, I hope they prove me wrong, because god knows we NEED something the caliber of Google TV instead of the garbage Moto passes off for its STB experience today.
2 like dislike
daninbusiness

I think you have some strong (and realistic) points here. However, I really hope that you are wrong in a way, since I'd greatly prefer it if the cable companies did something more exciting and interesting. In short, I'm not sure if I should hit 'like' or 'dislike' on this post. :)
0 like dislike
JPB

I don't think Google TV is DOA. They've definitely been held up in execution, but the scope has expanded as well... I think the end of this year is going to be interesting.

I say the end of this year because I've been hearing that the first Android@home devices will be released then. Android@home requires a gateway to bridge between Google's as-of-yet unannounced wireless standard (bets are on 6lowpan or Synapse Wireless) and the rest of the home network. I've also heard that 'Project Tungsten' is this bridge device. (Although this conflicts with the earlier understanding that Tungsten was a musical bridge layer which ran on top of any Android device...)

So: Project tungsten is Android kernel or something which runs on Android kernel. Launch will be around the end of this year, which coincides nicely with the release of Ice Cream Sandwich and the market launch of Android@home devices.

(speculation from here...)

Seems to me that Google would not release a market for Google TV apps until after the kernel was merged with the Android trunk (Ice Cream Sandwich). They're probably already testing it now (thus the Google TVs showing up on android market).

I'd guess that GoogleTV is one of the launch platforms for Tungsten, potentially along with an audio bridge device (like Apple's Airport Express). Tungsten will be built into the Ice Cream Sandwich codebase, and the release of Ice Cream Sandwich will also mark the release of some headline software coinciding with the opening of the Google TV Market.

This may be where SageTV fits in: It's a java-based frontend and backend for DVRs. If the frontend can be recompiled and installed as an Android app (and another source for the unified program search) and the backend can be open-sourced for inclusion into STBs, then the issue of integration with legacy (non-internet) services
may be sorted.

... but that's only dealing with the hardware/software side (the stuff we gadget freaks focus on first!). The Motorola purchase seems to have been mostly motivated by patents, and the importance of these patents should not be underestimated, but from a CE point of view, the real meaty parts are that the phones will be more up to date with Google's vision (NFC and SIP) and, furthermore (and potentially more importantly) that GoogleTV now has a well developed sales team with many pre-existing channels to sell through. Moto's STBs weren't very good but they certainly knew how to sell them.

(This was meant to be a short post, sorry.)
(Also if it re-posts, sorry, had to refresh the connection.)
0 like dislike
ryan

Side note, I should have been clearer: I meant that Google TV as cableco STB via Motorola is DOA. Google TV itself isn't DOA, but it's certainly on life support right now.
0 like dislike
frankspin

Motorolla already large STB distribution plus Sages DVR software will be a great combo for Google. I completely forgot about the Sage purchase.
1 like dislike
wrlee

Heh! _Maybe_ they bought MotoMob for STBs, not for the Android-based phones and tablets. The Goog _has_ to salvage Google TV somehow! :-)
0 like dislike
frankspin

In regards to the Motorolla set top boxes couldn't you say this is exactly what Google needs to break the mold of conventional TV watching and fully integrate GoogleTV into an already popular line of STB.
2 like dislike
beau

The reports say Motorola Mobility has 29,000 employees. 40% of Google employees are Moto now. That's a lot of culture integration to get done, or a lot of layoffs about to happen.
1 like dislike
wrlee

both!
1 like dislike
JPB

The motoblur division, for starters.
0 like dislike
thenns

Can somebody please explain to me why layoffs would even happen?
0 like dislike
aaronaut

layoffs are pretty much always a part of integrating a large company into a larger company. there will be employees with responsibilities that overlap, it's a waste of payroll dollars. also, one of the things i agree with ryan most on, is google will trim ALL of motorola's product lines, if you trim products you will have people who used to design, test, engineer and market those devices, once those folks no longer have a project to work on, you cut them from the payroll, it's good business sense. as large as google is they aren't going to keep folks on the payroll without reason.
0 like dislike
thenns

ok I understand that, but I'm pretty sure google said motorola will still function as a separate company, so these changes might not even happen for years. Everything in this article will probably happen at some point, but it's far into the future.
0 like dislike
wrlee

To point 6, the saving grace might be that, I believe, much of the MotoMob group is already in Silicon Valley.
1 like dislike
uday1489

Motorola mobility has about 19000 employees. Google has 25000 employees. Now that Google has acquired Moto Mobility, they will need few billion dollars just to maintain the staff. This means lots and lots of people will be fired. Kepp in mind that economic downturn could also have a significant effect on this.
1 like dislike
thenns

not true. Motorola mobility makes enough revenue to keep every one with a job, no one will be fired. If anything, google will have even more money than before.
0 like dislike
sciwiz

Regarding point #2, Samsung has never locked the bootloader.
0 like dislike
DaveFriedel

Having worked with several ex-Motorola executives, I'd say your Sprint-Nextel comparison is spot on. The inner workings of Motorola seem to be extremely corporate, profit driven ( not innovation driven), and dysfunctional. Its going to be a serious challenge for a company like Google. There'll be some knockdown, drag out fights.
0 like dislike
darthgault

I actually like motoblur ... i loved the calendar and rss widgets ... my Motorola Cliq got to outdated and slow with 2.1 so i went to a LG optimus for a while ... then settled with windows phone ... which was designed for me.
0 like dislike
JPB

1) Yes
2) Maybe, although carriers may stand in the way of full Google-ification
3) Yes
4) Yes
5) No, (personal opinion here) I think that Google TV is effectively in hibernation until Ice Cream Sandwich, and that Motorola's ability to push STBs downstream should not be underestimated: they've got some long-standing relationships to build from. (More on this from me in another post)
6) Maybe. Motorola may need some serious re-shaping in any case, but Jha has been pretty active in re-forming the company. The stench of death is not fully out of the air, and Google will need to keep an eye on things to make sure that integration is effective while also avoiding cultural backflow: The last thing we want is a Google with a more Motorola-like corporate culture.
0 like dislike
clintgunter

I hope he's right about #1. pixelegend.net­/post­/goodbye­-motoblur­-hello­-stock­-a...
0 like dislike
keithanderson

#3 is the most interesting to me as a retail analyst. Google has big ambitions for the role of Android in and around the store. NFC-powered mobile payments are one potential game changer, but there are other interesting ways to use NFC in stores (e.g. frictionless check-ins, instant offers, etc). More of my thoughts here: connected.retailnetgroup.com­/index.php­/2011­/08­/17­/...
0 like dislike
roberto

Great analysis Ryan. If Google/Android does indeed move forward with pushing for more unlocked options with their handsets, what kinds of prices can we expect for these devices? Could they saturate the market enough so as to bring actual manufacturing costs down and make this option more attractive to the average consumer?
0 like dislike
thenns

I sure hope so. I'm sick of subsidizing plans or paying $600+ for a good phone.
0 like dislike
Demomanca

As a consumer, as long as this means that the Atrix 2 looses motoblur, and runs chromeOS instead of webtop, we all win :)
0 like dislike
thenns

chromeOS on an atrix? they could do better than that.
0 like dislike
mattstaub

In regards to point 5, I would actually expect them to integrate Google TV into these set top boxes and try to capture that market before Apple figures out what exactly to do with Apple TV.
0 like dislike
GeekOfComedy

All I know is that no matter what Google Says Motorola will get exclusive features one way or another for e.g If Google makes the phone together they can release software updates E.g 3.5 off the batt without any wait while HTC has to spend weeks/months customizing it for their hard ware.
0 like dislike
idoruh

Well, it's hard to argue with your points, but what about the whole cable box thing? Right now Motorola are the No. 1 cable box maker. Do you really think Google would give that up? They might be crappy for customizability, but cable providers like them.
0 like dislike
crasher35

Maybe this will be a chance for GoogleTV to shine... lol, j/k! That's going no where :P
1 like dislike
usercf49d9f498d

@crasher35, re:Google TV, the question is, who's going to be dumb enough to make the device, after what happened to Logitech? If Googorola doesn't sign up for it, I can't think of any other outfit that will.
1 like dislike
crasher35

I know, but I don't seriously expect GoogleTV to go anywhere. I'm pretty sure that's going to be dead in the water. You're probably right in the fact that, if Google does another big push for GoogleTV it's going to be Motorola rolling it out, since what other manufacturer in their right mind would waste money implementing it?

I honestly don't see GoogleTV going anywhere, though you never know. It might come back to surprise us.
0 like dislike
usercf49d9f498d

Agreed. I'm only hedging because I keep seeing expressions of hope on forums where the Google TV faithful gather -- talking about the next big release. My guess is that, if these reports are correct, individual members of the development may be working on the software in their "20% time." But, like you, I don't see anyone taking the bait this year.

If I were Larry Page, I'd reformulate Google TV to do less, do it better, and cost just $99. Add tons of apps and games, an app Marketplace and consider canning the browser if needed to make price-point, because everyone blocks it anyhow. But I'm not Larry Page and it's not gonna happen.

I do wish they'd make a comeback, if only to prod Apple to put many more music and video Apps on the next Apple TV. The one really great thing that Google did for TV last year was to force Apple and Roku to improve their products.
1 like dislike
usercf49d9f498d

I agree with all the above, but think the time frame will be more like 12 months -- the clock is ticking on Google's do-or-die dice throw, and if this doesn't work out, they're not just out $12.5 billion -- but headed to a very nice retirement community.

It's evident from this move that Google's give-it-away-for-free-and-cash-in-on-the-ads business model isn't working on Android phones -- I suspect, because phones are inherently NOT a great place to do Google-style space ads -- and if they can't make it work, their days of growth are numbered, because they're close to maxing out their growth on PC screens.
0 like dislike
etschuetz

I have to say, this entire article reads like a "Wishful Thinking" article rather than anything truly speculative. I have to disagree with pretty much every point in regards to what was stated here.

1. Motoblur isn't really going anywhere. For the time being, Motorola is remaining as is. It will function as its own company, even though under the umbrella for Google. Google didn't buy Motorola Mobility for the hardware, they did it for the patents. Motoblur is sadly going to remain on a lot of Motorola devices, unless Google wants to step in and make Motorola a "flagship" OEM...which would not be beneficial to the overall Android ecosystem.

2. Carrier unlocked devices? Again, this isn't something the manufactures are fully to blame for. They do it to protect their devices, but also do it to keep the carriers happy. Carriers don't want unlocked, rooted devices on their networks. Tethering is a prime example here (I don't care for the extra fee's either, but still a point here). Phones and devices that are not locked down pose a technical threat to the integrity of the cell phone carriers network. It would be much like an unauthorized laptop on a corporate secure network. Imagine the dangers there!

3. This is something I will go with. NFC has a LOT of potential and could very easily be something Motorola could be "encouraged" to push in ALL of their devices...set top boxes, baby monitors, modems, mobile devices, etc.

4. I would love to agree with you on Dumbphones and Feature phones, but I don't see them going anywhere anytime soon. I wouldn't be surprised to see them done away with, as the trend towards smartphones is growing, but not anytime in the very near future....5 years minimum.

5. Motorola Mobility doesn't do just Mobile Phones. They do the modems, and cable set top boxes. (Hello Google TV!) Baby Monitors, and a variety of other electronics. I actually see Google taking these other products and finding very interesting ways to integrate Google services into them.

6. Comparing Google and Motorola to Sprint and Nextel makes no sense. Google is a Software Company. Sprint AND Nextel are BOTH cell phone companies...and neither really did any of their OWN hand sets. Your comparison is like comparing Apples to Dogs. The marriage of Google and Motorola is going to be a two sided coin that will show a LOT of benefits for the two sides. Google needed the patents that Motorola owned. Motorola Mobility was pulled from the abyss thanks to jumping onto the Android platform and putting out the OG Droid (A device that LITERALLY saved them!). Each side will compliment each other.

As for one or the other having to move? No purpose, or reasoning to that at all. Did you forget the age we live in? I am pretty sure that Google can afford a quick flight from the west coast to the midwest at a moments notice. Google also has a great sense of setting up various ways to communicate between people over distances...or maybe you haven't gotten your invite to Google+ yet.

I am a Google follower, and a Phandroid. However, this article was poorly written and not well thought out.
-1 like dislike
ryan

Just because you disagree doesn't mean it is poorly written or poorly thought out. Also, you missed basically every point I was trying to make. Ah well.
1 like dislike
etschuetz

My point of being "poorly written", and being nearly completely in disagreement to what you posted was due to a lack of any analogical thought put into your post. As a purely speculative opinion piece, it was great, really. As anything to prove a point to drive home to others that are looking at the Google/Motorola purchase, you go in the wrong direction.

There are NUMEROUS articles out already with statements pulled from both the Google and Motorola camps, each discussing what is in the immediate future for Motorola as a company, and what Google attains from this purchase. Statements that I shot down through out my reply, such as "non-smartphone" technology that Motorola Mobility produces, i.e. STB's, Baby Monitors and Modems. These are devices that Google can quickly and easily benefit from!
0 like dislike
JPB

The baby monitors are definitely out! (Just kidding, ... maybe.)

"independent" or not, Motorola will be restructuring around their new relationship with Google. It makes sense that, as Motorola becomes "Google's hardware division", these other non-related devices will be removed from the product lineup.

Or maybe we'll have Android-powered baby monitors...
0 like dislike
etschuetz

Well, consider this....Baby Monitor with GeoLocation information with direct tie into an Android device...Wifi enabled with a front facing night vision camera that can relay information, sound and video, back to ANY Android powered device with the App installed.

Google TV with PnP so you can watch the latest episodes of Game of Thrones, yet still watch your little prince(ss) sleep.
Xoom with the app installed so while away on business you don't miss a smirk or wiggle of the nose as the new baby sleeps
Android phone, lets you know the sitter is doing her/his job while you and the spouse are having a much deserved night out.

Or, repackaged monitor distributed for "Home Security" purposes.
0 like dislike
etschuetz

Oh, and I need to revoke something...my comment about the comparison of Googorola and Sprint/Nextel. When I went back to write my counter points, I made err. Eh, I am human after all...Damn it!

As a former employee for a Sprint call center, and dealing with the headaches of Nextel customers, I can see what you described in the issue. I will hold opinion on the comparison as accurate or inaccurate due to being way to early. Why? Because the major issue between Sprint and Nextel was that Sprint had no business buying a iDEN network and trying to integrate it into their CDMA network. They only did it because they wanted access to Push to Talk.

Google and Motorola's marriage is much more beneficial in the fact that they honestly have something to offer to each other. Google has the software to push Motorola's devices, and Motorola has the Hardware to carry them. Software+Hardware is a natural given. I would say this is a Kool Aide + Sugar type deal....albeit to much sugar is NOT a good thing. Where Sprint+Nextel was Kool Aide + Salt. Just because it is Granular and White doesn't make it the same.
0 like dislike
share:

28 users following this discussion, including:

  • veronica
  • frankspin
  • briansanderson
  • aaronaut
  • thecybernerd
  • beau
  • ryan
  • mol
  • roberto
  • JPB

This discussion has been viewed 3820 times.
Last activity .