Google is expected to pay $12 billion for Motorola. That’s a lot of dollars. The widely held belief is that this acquisition has a lot to do with the 17,000 patents that Motorola holds, patents that Google would then possess. The mobile phone market is a highly litigious one, and those patents give Google a lot of legal firepower in lawsuits and potential lawsuits over who owns what particular piece of technology.
But it’s not just a legal matter; it’s a matter of regular peoples’ daily lives as well.
Charles Golvin, principal analyst with Forrester Research, says companies besides Motorola who make Android devices could suffer, and so could their customers. “There is a basic challenge for a company like Google,” he says, “who is providing software to multiple hardware manufacturers like Samsung or LG with acquiring their own hardware company because it creates questions about whether they are being disadvantaged and whether competition, Motorola in this case, will have earlier access to new technology, new solutions, and new features.”
Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET, says some of those phone makers might not take that lying down: “If Samsung and HTC decide they’re not happy about Google competing with them head to head in the hardware market, they might decide to run Windows Phone 7 instead in which case it would be a good day for Microsoft.”
But this isn’t just about phones. Motorola makes a lot of other things too: Bluetooth devices, cable modems, even baby monitors. Molly says Motorola’s status as one of the top manufacturers of set top cable TV boxes could bring Google into everyone’s living room. “If Google can find a way to get its foot in the door there,” she says, “and make Google TV as the back end on those boxes, then all of a sudden you might be using Google to search for online video or internet content or movies to rent.”
Google TV, as you may recall, launched last year and has been something of a dud. That’s due in large part to content providers (movie and TV studios, cable networks) not wanting to play along with Google’s plans. Molly Wood says if Google makes all those set-top boxes, that could change: “If all of a sudden Google is huge and Google TV in every set-top box in America, then providers have incentive to make a deal. So far they’ve looked at Google and said no thank you.”
Also on today’s program, a new report says 13 percent of Americans have pretended to be on a cell phone call in order to avoid human contact. This means either 87 percent of you are lying and doing it anyway or, according to host John Moe, you’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity.