Technologizer

Ten Questions About Google Buying Motorola

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Other than the implications for the phone business, what’s interesting here?

To date, nobody’s managed to build a hugely appealing Android tablet. Now Google will get to try its hand at doing so itself. And how about Google TV? It’s been a flop so far, but Motorola makes DVRs and set-top boxes and sells them to TV system operators–giving Google the opportunity to reboot Google TV and try again with a new business model. (Here are some thoughts on that topicfrom Gigaom’s Ryan Lawler and Ryan Kim.)

What’s the nightmare scenario?

Google acts like it bought a patent portfolio that came with a handset maker, and–either willfully or through neglect, and either quickly or slowly–drives Motorola’s handset business into the ground. That would be really depressing. But Google’s press release mentions both the future of Motorola devices and patent protection as arguments in favor of the deal. And they are indeed both really important, which is why I think of this as, um, an offdensive move.

Any final thoughts?

Not final final ones–I’m sure I’ll have a lot more to say about this. But here’s a final thought for now. For decades, we “all knew” that Microsoft’s business model of licensing software to third-party hardware makers was superior to Apple’s philosophy of doing as much as possible itself, at least when it came to the potential for absurd profits. (Here’s one of at least ten zillion articles based on that premise.) But Apple seems to be doing just fine with its strategy. Companies like HP are mimicking it. And now Google is spending $12.5 billion to take a stab at the Apple way, without quite giving up the Microsoft way. (Its decision to both make its own devices and license its software to other companies is most reminiscent of the approach that Palm took for a few years; it didn’t work out well long-termin that case.) Microsoft is still making boatloads of cash, too, but can we all agree that it’s no longer so clear that everyone knows it figured out the best business model for software and Apple blew it?

This article originally appeared on Technologizer…

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