The news that Google and Motorola’s landmark deal is now a step closer, after shareholders in Moto approved the merger, comes as no surprise. But while the Big G’s move for the US phone-maker was seen as a bid to ensure it had a wider patent portfolio, the deal could spell trouble for Android in the long term. Here are five reasons why we think this tie-up could prove problematic in the years to come.
1. HTC, Sony Ericsson and Samsung may think twice about creating killer Android kit
Google says it won’t show favouritism to its own mobile brand, but try telling that to HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. All three have released quality Android phones this year, from budget blowers to full-on super-specced iPhone contenders. But why should they bother investing more when Google, via Motorola, will be building its own Android phones to its own high standards. Despite saying Google would not, “…violate the openness of Android,” Eric Schmidt has also hinted that an iPhone-like integrated device is not off the table.
2. It could exacerbate fragmentation issues
Nexus phones already show that Google likes to give its own branded devices the latest Android software first. You can bet that now Motorola is on board, the newest editions of the OS will find themselves on its handsets first, while others continue to wait. Unless Motorola takes the Nexus route, releasing one phone a year, it means there’ll be wider fragmentation of the OS across the range.
3. Android could become pigeon-holed and lack variety
Android’s joy, among consumers at least, is its variety. The worry here, playing into previous concerns about rival manufacturers holding back on Android development, is that Motorola phones using the OS will start to dominate, smothering other devices and not offering end users the choice they love when it comes to Android.
4. Anti-competition investigations could damage Android’s open source goals
The Google Motorola merger is yet to be approved by regulators and the US, something which could prove to be a serious issue for the search giant. Antitrust suits will only degrade the idea of Google being open to competition and allowing manufacturing partners to take each other on with Android devices. Google needs to look the good guy in the mobile space, especially if it wants to keep portraying Apple as the big bad beast that loves keeping its iDevices under lock and key.
5. Hardware may lead to less software focus
Google has hinted that it’ll move fully into the hardware business with Motorola. That’s understandable, but could lead to less focus on the excellent software its engineers are producing. Android is some way ahead of iOS in terms of innovation and functionality, even if it’s lagging behind a bit in usability. This is part of Android’s core appeal and it is essential Google doesn’t lose sight of this.