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
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
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
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.