Just before 9:00 a.m. on May 22, the official Google blog announced the completion of Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility. The closing of the deal was all but a formality once the US and the EU regulators gave the deal a wink and a nod back in February. Still, it represents the joining of a major Internet player with a major player from the device world -- although whether anything truly new will result has yet to be seen.
One thing that is pretty well known was Google's lusting for Motorola Mobility’s intellectual property. The $12.5 billion deal gives Google ownership of 17,000 patents that can now be used to defend the Android platform from lawsuits. Control over the intellectual property will more than likely have the biggest impact for Google in the short term.
Intellectual property aside, Google now has an array of handsets in its portfolio as well as Motorola’s set top box business in its back pocket. Rumors have been kicking around that Google is already looking for a buyer for the latter, which is too bad. I am sure I am not the only one who would like to see the Google TV platform integrated into a set top box. But since the Moto business is mostly with traditional video service providers, it's easy to see why Google might choose to go in a different direction altogether.
Even without set top boxes, Google has a lot of options open to it with the mobile device lineup they gain in the acquisition. The big problem here is that Google doesn't really have the chops for consumer electronics, they lack a whole world of experience. Up until now, for instance, there has not been a single Android phone that has the "wow factor" the iPhone had when it hit the market in 2007. And despite several Android phones having been labeled "iPhone killers" over the years, none of them have been able to live up to the moniker.
Much of this may have to do with the Apple fan base, but that is only a small part. The big area where Google is lacking is in product design, something that Apple is outstanding at executing.
Though product design and user experience might not be Google's strengths, innovation and product integration most definitely are, and this is where Google can make the most of the Moto Mobility deal.
If (and this might be a very big if) Google can take the mobile device technology now at its disposal and find a way to integrate some other technologies floating around in the Google portfolio, it might find an edge in the market, though a lot of things would need to line up for Google to be able to make this happen.
I am expecting Google to at least give their experiment with Motorola Mobility and the mobile device market a valiant effort. In the end, I hope there will be more left of Motorola Mobility than 17,000 patents sitting on a shelf somewhere in Mountain View.
— Dana Blouin is a network engineer and technologist doing graduate work in information and communication technology at the University of Wisconsin.