Analysts warn of Android desertion


Analysts argue Google’s purchase of Motorola could lead to other major manufacturers jumping ship to Windows Mobile

The news that Google has purchased Motorola Mobility for £7.6 billion and with it, access to its chest of over 17,000 mobile patents has come as something of a surprise to the entire mobile industry.

The move has been welcomed by the other big four Android manufacturers -HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson, all of which have said the deal will “defend the Android ecosystem and its partners”.

Despite the support from Android’s other partners some analysts are suggesting the move has the potential to scare off these manufacturers to other platforms the most obvious of which is Windows Mobile.

Ovum analyst Nick Dillon says: “The move raises concerns for the wider Android ecosystem as the acquisition means that Google will become a hardware vendor. With this, Google will move from the position of partner, to that of competitor to Android handset manufacturers, potentially placing significant strain on the Android ecosystem.

“If, for example, Google provides preferential access to the Android code to its own hardware division, this would place other vendors at a disadvantage and may lead them to question their commitment to the platform, potentially pushing some towards other platforms.

Dillon continues: “Given Google’s recent moves to exert greater control of the implementation of the Android platform, such as restricting access to the Android source code to select hardware partners, such a move is not beyond the realm of the imagination.

“One beneficiary of any move away from Android would be Microsoft and its Windows Phone platform, as many larger Android manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, HTC and ZTE are also Windows Phone licensees.”

But other analysts such as international telecoms and media consultancy Greenwich Consulting general manager Fred Huet believes the move will give Google a major boost as it looks to become a major mobile hardware player particularly in the tablet sector.

“Following the acquisition, the market will likely see the development and launch of an iPad rival tablet device, as Google develops its own mobile computing products,” Huet says.

“Apple has demonstrated that to own the consumer you have to provide their device, which is an approach that Google will likely adopt, with a Google tablet device providing a mobile link into the ‘cloud’.

“This is a very smart move. While Motorola isn’t one of the most desirable mobile brands, its brand isn’t as tarnished as Nokia’s and the recent Xoom tablet was well received.

“Also, Motorola has been demonstrably committed to the Android platform, so that should help avoid integration issues. It will also be interesting to see how Google’s recent bold moves with Google+ and Google Wallet will be integrated with this acquisition.”

But like Dillon, Huet believes it will be of up most importance to Google that they keep their other partners happy.

“Google will need to exercise careful stakeholder management to ensure that their additional Android partners such as Samsung and HTC, foster continued growth of the Android OS outside of purely Motorola.

“While the acquisition provides exciting growth potential, they will not want to put all their eggs in one basket.