With its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google has shown that it is ready to take its investment in mobile to the next level. It’s important to remember, however, that Motorola Mobility does more than just make smartphones.
Ostensibly, Google’s decision to purchase Motorola has as much to do with increasing its patent portfolio as it is about getting into the hardware market, with Google already committing to running Motorola as a separate business. Still, we find it hard to believe that Google will just ignore the opportunity to potentially better couple its Android operating system with Motorola-produced tablets or smartphones.
Google-Motorola Could Give Google TV a Fighting Chance
Motorola is one of the biggest players in the set-top box space, and cable companies lease its cable boxes, DVR and IPTV components to customers. While we think it’s unlikely that Google will make any major changes to this existing business, owning Motorola means that Google TV has a potential distribution strategy.
To date, Google TV has been a colossal failure for not only Google, but for the companies that have partnered with Google to bring out Google TV hardware.
Google TV has failed, in part, because the product isn’t very good and because it doesn’t offer significant value to the customer. However, even if the Google TV product was great, it would still have a hard time achieving widespread adoption in the consumer marketplace, simply because as Steve Jobs has noted, selling consumers another box is hard.
However, what prevents Motorola from offering a Google TV-enabled set-top box option to its cable customers? Making a product available doesn’t guarantee that anyone will buy it, but the better integration of Android and the Google backing could lead to more robust, higher quality Android-powered connected TV options for cable providers that are increasingly looking to edge out subscription streaming services in order to retain customers.
A Manufacturing Spin Out?
We agree with Saul Hansell in believing that within the decade — if not much sooner — Google will likely spin-out Motorola’s manufacturing business. As Hansell says, “It’s just not what [Google does], and it’s not what they need in the long run.”
The impact that the manufacturing business could have on Google’s financial reporting could be a distraction.
Nokia and RIM Ripe for the Picking
Of course, other players in the device space may feel the most immediate impact from the Google-Motorola deal.
Shares in Nokia and RIM jumped in the wake of the Google-Motorola announcement, as the market saw beleaguered mobile giants as ripe acquisition targets for companies like Microsoft. Nokia has already tied its future fortunes to Microsoft’s Windows Phone ship, why not just complete the deal and be done with it?
Assuming the Google-Motorola deal sails through without any regulatory hurdles, it could open to door for an acquisition of either Nokia or RIM.