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Mike Simons is the Editor of ComputerWorldUK and Techworld. He joined IDG in 2006 after almost a decade at Computer Weekly. An award winning IT and business journalist, Mike has a particularly focused on major IT projects and public sector IT. His fascination with the business and social impact of technology began at university, where he obtained an MSc at the Science Policy Research Unit of Sussex University.

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Google bags headaches along with Motorola patents

Is this merger necessary to strengthen Android?

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What does Google get from its £7.7 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility?

It gets the company that first developed the mobile phone, some 24,000 patents and a hardware partner.

But it is a hardware partner that has slipped back tremendously in recent years, even if its phones and the Xoom tablet all use Google’s Android operating system and its Atrix phone and laptop dock shows there is still innovation in the company.

The focus on Android should spare Google and Motorola the sort of embarrassment that befell Nokia, when it announced it was ditching its OS for the Windows Phone 7 platform, even though we are still waiting for a Nokia-Windows phone.

Nevertheless, Motorola, like Nokia, ranks among the losers in the mobile space - it is an ‘also ran’ among Android phone manufacturers with HTC, LG and Samsung leading the way - and everyone is tailing Apple.

Google now faces an enormous management challenge in bringing order into Motorola’s fractured internal regime. It may have to lay off thousands of Motorola employees while also keeping the existing Android smartphone manufacturing community sweet.

HTC, Sony Ericson, LG and Samsung have all issued endorsments for the deal - but their language is so similar and so stilted that it reveals the potential for problems ahead.

Add to this difficult mix the fact that Google faces potential licensing issues if it tries to use the Motorola patents in the open source Android OS, and it could be going hard going for Google.

The last thing that enterprise IT needs amidst all this is for a standards and patents war between rival vendors. The sight of Oracle and Google taking on each other over alleged patent breaches in Android is bad enough. We do not want to see this or other vendor conflicts escalating as a result of this takeover.

Businesses and organisations need clear, open standards. They don’t want to be wondering each time they deploy technology whether they will be caught up in an unseemly vendor war.

They need competition among vendors to drive forward, not stifle innovation, and they want vendors to focus their resources on delivering innovation, not on shutting rivals out of markets.

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