When Google recently announced their acquisition of Motorola, I rejoiced, as did many other Android fans. Great hardware + direct Google backing + mobile communications patents = win, right? At least that was until yesterday when I recalled that Motorola in general has struggled since the Razr. It doesn’t help that Motorola Mobility – which, more specifically, is what Google purchased – has been in the red for the past 2 quarters. It then occurred to me that Google might be too smart to make the same mistake Diamler and HP made in acquiring Chrysler and Compaq, respectively. Rather than try to fix Motorola’s problems, Google might just take their intellectual property (IP), cherry pick their best employees, and liquidate the rest.
Panicked, I did a quick Google News search of the acquisition to see if anyone else had come to that conclusion. All I found was general Apple vs. InsertCompanyHere and CompetitorExecutiveStatement commentary, but today this (if that article title isn’t a death knell, I don’t know what is) popped up in my RSS feeds:
There is no way Google will try to breathe new life into this ailing company, so its mobile handset partners need not fear that Google will become one of their competitors. This simply will not happen … Google will keep all of its intellectual property and for the rest it will most likely make more money from selling the different parts of the company than from keeping a rather disjointed set of businesses together under the current umbrella.
So basically there’s no guarantee that OEM support will continue for any existing or planned Motorola handsets. In English: (inevitable) bugs might go unfixed. Warranty claims might get dicey. OS updates and sustaining development might be spotty, if they continue at all.
Even if Google does try to sell the handset business, it’s unlikely anyone would be buying as it’s useless without the IP to go with. I guess the only thing that might fetch some cash is the Motorola brand name, which would likely be picked up by some lowest common denominator Chinese supplier. Goodbye build quality, excellent documentation, and everything else you’ve come to expect from Motorola.
As much as I hate to say it, the above is the most realistic scenario. It saddens me to say so because:
- I have advised many friends and family to buy Motorola Android handsets as recently as Monday. My apologies to those people
- I had been looking forward to picking up a Motorola Droid Bionic
- I really really need a replacement for my aging Droid 1. But just about all of Verizon’s flagship pipeline is Motorola hardware, so it looks as if I’ll have to wait some more
- I gather from watching my Twitter feed (I live in IL) that many people were excited about an expanded Google presence in the Greater Chicago area. I doubt that will come to pass
I’m not sure why a company with as rich and storied an engineering history as Motorola couldn’t pull itself out of the hole it got into, but sure looks as if this is the end of the line.