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If I had the cash, I’d have bought Motorola just to sack the marketing department that came up with the cringeworthy ‘Hello Moto’ line on their adverts.

I hope Google has this as the third action on its to-do list after ‘grab the patents’ and ‘make a bloatware-free android handset’.

There’s no way that Google looked at Motorola and decided that it had to have their hardware. Since the days of the StarTac I’ve always thought of Motorola as an also-ran in the hardware market. The company lacks the build quality of HTC, the glitz of Samsung and the previous design innovation of Nokia.

This (planned acquisition) is a play to strengthen Android's position as it comes under threat by patents that will push up the price of use and set a standard by which other Android manufacturers will be judged in terms of implementation. But I suspect there is more.

In considering this recent news I have considered further what Microsoft and Nokia may be up to. I’ve had a revelation – not saying I’m right – but suddenly things make more sense.

Accept for a moment that iOS devices stagnate, as many learned commentators think they will, and consider only Android and WP7 operating systems.

Microsoft has cleverly protected its UI and device specification, reducing the on-screen variation to a bare minimum. Looking at Windows 8 previews and the upcoming Xbox dashboard update and it's easy to understand why.

Metro is a wonderful UI and consistency across multiple screens is going to an essential part of Microsoft’s proposition over the next decade.

Google has done quite the opposite. Its operating system is so open and the rules so relaxed that there is a ridiculous amount of variation across the many devices out there. This weakens the Android proposition completely as consumers cannot share their loyalty to this platform among themselves.

These recent moves by Microsoft and Google seek to level out these issues and strengthen both of their positions.

Microsoft will not be diversifying its OS, that would weaken it. But consumers buy handsets, not operating systems. If Nokia can get back to what they were good at, then we can expect there to be some seriously innovative hardware running WP7 OS.

This will set a precedent and promote more ingenuity from other WP7 manufacturers.

To date, Google seeks to control and define its OS on devices more than it has to. Perhaps to say control is going to far but it certainly wants to influence they way Android is implemented.

Providing a ‘gold standard’ by which Android devices will be judged and can be recognised by consumers is attractive by anybody's standards. Imagine an Android device running at peak performance with only first part bolt-ons to the OS. Maybe I’m just weird but that’s exciting.

Where does this leave Apple? Well, wearing my burn suit I’d say that it could well leave them out in the cold. iOS is looking old now but to truly innovate on a software level Apple needs to compromise either by removing legacy app support in future hardware or adding legacy support into new OS revisions that is costly and unreliable (a problem that Microsoft knows only too well).

While I said earlier that consumers buy phones not operating systems this can only go so far. And I suggest that Apple’s device design is so iconic, so simple that only revolution can keep them relevant over the next few years.

Rich Holdsworth

Published 18 August, 2011 by Rich Holdsworth

Rich Holdsworth is CTO and Co-Founder at Wapple and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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