Google's Motorola buy may offer boost to Microsoft

Handset makers like HTC and Samsung may grow wary of using Android with Motorola under Google's roof

By , IDG News Service |  Networking

Hazelton called this acquisition a defining moment in Android's history that will lead to a slowing in its growth rate.

If they decide to shift some of their focus away from Android, phone makers are likely to take another look at Microsoft's Windows Phone. "Forrester can hear Steve Ballmer and company pitching the Asian players on how Microsoft is the only hardware agnostic player left and that HTC, Samsung, and LG should increase their support for Windows Mobile as protection against Google favoring its own hardware play," John McCarthy, a Forrester analyst, wrote in a blog post about the acquisition.

"I do expect to see Samsung take another hard look at the split between Android and Windows Phones and start putting some more emphasis on the Windows side," Greengart said. "In some ways the big winner is Microsoft."

The acquisition could also have repercussions in the tablet market, since many of the handset makers also produce tablets. Samsung and LG, for instance, could shift toward Windows 8 when it becomes available instead of using Android on tablets, Hazelton said.

While the acquisition could give a boost to Windows Phone, it also puts Microsoft in a unique position in the mobile market. Now, all of the major mobile-phone operating system developers are vertically integrated except for Windows Phone. Apple, Research In Motion, Hewlett-Packard and now Google produce both the hardware and software for phones. "Windows Phone is the only one left," Hazelton said.

It's notable that the quotes Google posted from handset makers all praise Google for its commitment to defending Android. Google was surely motivated by Motorola's extensive patent portfolio. Android is being attacked on many fronts as companies such as Oracle, Apple and Microsoft file patent-infringement lawsuits against handset makers and Google. Motorola's patents can help Google defend against these legal maneuvers.

"The patent battles between Apple and Android could turn into a cold war, with both sides accumulating significant IPR [intellectual property rights], which they clearly intend to use as weapons rather than for constructive innovation," Caroline Gabriel, an analyst with Rethink Research, wrote in a report on Monday.

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