On the face of it, the reaction from Android handset manufacturers to the news that Google had just bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion was relatively positive.
The chiefs of HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson all released separate statements welcoming the news and saying the buyout would be useful when it came to “defending Android”.
That phrase is particularly interesting, as it was used in all four manufacturers’ statements. It seems there was more than an element of a coordinated response, as each mobile maker tried not to look too displeased about Google’s shock decision.
The concept of “defending Android” is pertinent because of Google’s recent spat with Microsoft and Apple over hovering-up patents.
By buying Motorola, owner of 17,000 patents, Google is giving all of its Android partners the chance to defend themselves vigorously when it comes to lawsuits with the likes of Apple and Microsoft.
This shows that the Big G is more than ready to take on its key competitors in the courtroom. The battle is going to get very ugly if this war of attrition continues. So, should they be worried? Android boss Andy Rubin thinks not.
He said: “Our vision for Android is unchanged and Google remains firmly committed to Android as an open platform and a vibrant open source community.
“We will continue to work with all of our valued Android partners to develop and distribute innovative Android-powered devices."
Google CEO Larry Page, meanwhile, said it would help other mobile partners. But you just need to look at the succinct, some would say terse, nature of the statements from HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony Ericsson to surmise that behind the scenes, there are genuine fears that this deal could compromise future devices.
Surely now Motorola is owned by Google, it will be the company that gets quick access to new software and develops own-brand Nexus products?
The latter will be of great concern to HTC and Samsung, the companies behind the Nexus One and Nexus S respectively. Google might not be saying it now, but the importance of getting a foothold in the hardware market is just as vital as “defending Android” for its partners.
If it can successfully roll-out Google-branded devices from Motorola, replete with vanilla versions of Android that work better than skinned versions from the likes of HTC and Sony Ericsson, then why should it worry about its partners and the devices they release?
Google evidently craves the similar all out control that Apple has with iOS and its iPhone and iPad. To that end, other Android manufacturers should be more than a little wary for what this means for them, maybe not now, but definitely within the next one or two years.