Google's scoop of Motorola may well protect Android, but who protects Android handset makers from a supercharged Moto? Microsoft has an answer: hedge your bets on Windows Phone.
It's fair to say the jury's still out on Google's mega-purchase
of Motorola Mobility earlier in the year. The deal, announced
in August (and still undergoing regulatory approval in the US), was broadly welcomed by Android's hardware partners as the news broke, who uniformly praised
the acquisition of Motorola's considerable patent portfolio
as a sound defensive gesture for the benefit of the whole Android ecosystem.
Steve Guggenheimer, in Sydney today, sees greater OEM interest in WP7 post Google's Motorola acquisition. (Image credit: Microsoft)
Larry Page, Google's CEO, described the manoeuvre as "Supercharging Android". But clearly, one thing the general contingent of Android handset makers is now having to come to grips with is the prospect of a supercharged, Google-backed Motorola competing in their midst. (In the Open Handset Alliance, it would seem, all partners are equal, but some partners are more equal than others.)
And it's a reality (and opportunity) not last on Steve Guggenheimer, Microsoft's Corporate VP, OEM Division, who deals with many of the same hardware partners in relation to the company's Windows Phone platform, which recently received a significant update in the form of WP7.5 (aka "Mango")
and is soon to see the fruits of Microsoft's long-awaited partnership with Nokia
. Nokia's first Windows Phone is widely expected to be delivered before the end of the year.
Oops... luckily Fujitsu-Toshiba's IS12T, the first WP7.5 device (Japan only, sorry folks), is water (and sand) proof. (Image credit: Microsoft)
Guggenheimer, currently in Australia, seems less than rattled by the prospect of a supercharged Motorola batting for Google and more intrigued by the resultant possibilities for Microsoft in shepherding in greater OEM interest from now-wary Android partners. APC spoke with him today, and he had this to say about the "awkward state" the Android ecosystem presently finds itself in: "The Google acquisition of Moto puts pressure on us to some degree, but [it] really puts pressure on our partners to find an alternative to Android, because it doesn't make them feel very comfortable. They're nervous. And so I'm seeing more interest from our partners wanting to work with Microsoft... So I don't think it puts any pressure necessarily on the Nokia partnership. I think Nokia's a great business and they'll do a great job. I think in general we're seeing more interest in working with Microsoft on devices because they feel a little bit of a threat. It's an awkward state to have your software provider also be building hardware with a competitor. I think that the notion that Android's free is not so clear. There's clearly IP value in other software; that's been pretty well pointed out... In general there's a lot of interest in how to do a great job with Windows Phone collectively because people do want an alternative to Apple in this particular space. Android has had some good momentum in places, but I think there's a little more discomfort there than there was, say, a year ago."