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BLOG: Google and Motorola Mobility: Your questions answered

JR Raphael | Aug. 15, 2011
Google shocked most of the tech world Monday morning by announcing it had agreed to buy Motorola Mobility. That's right: The company that famously doesn't make hardware is now on its way to owning one of the most prominent makers of mobile devices.

What about other Android manufacturers? Does Android now become a one-player game like the iPhone?

Not at all: According to Google, nothing will change in terms of Android's open approach to mobile development. During Monday's press call, Android head honcho Andy Rubin said he had talked to the "top five licensees" of Android software and that they "all showed enthusiastic support." Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC, and LG all issued their own statements of support as well, though it's hard to read too much into that type of bland and carefully crafted PR-speak.

According to Rubin, "Android doesn't make sense to be a single OEM." And he's right: It's Android's multimanufacturer, choice-driven approach that's been a key factor in its meteoric rise within the mobile market. Phones like Samsung's Galaxy S II and original Galaxy S have played a huge role in helping Android sales skyrocket. Google would be crazy to throw that all away; its challenge now will be finding a way to run Motorola without making everyone else feel like they're at an extreme disadvantage. If Monday's remarks are any indication, Rubin seems to be up to the challenge.

"We expect that this combination will enable us to break new ground for the Android ecosystem," Rubin said. "However, 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."

Okay, so how will Google run Motorola?

Google promises it'll run Motorola as a separate business. In Monday's press call, Rubin explained it like this:

"Motorola was one of the early [Android] licensees. After the transaction, nothing changes -- it's business as usual. It's about protecting and extending the ecosystem."

So we won't see a "Google-made" phone, then?

Right -- that's what Google is saying. In the press call, Larry Page reiterated that Motorola would be building its hardware like it does now and would remain a licensee of the Android OS.

"There are competencies that aren't core to us, but we plan to operate [Motorola] as a separate business, so they have competency there," Page said.

What about Google's Nexus phones? Will Moto now make all of those?

Negatory. Rubin says Google's Nexus strategy will remain exactly as it is now, with multiple manufacturers working on concepts and "bidding" to be the official partner for each release. Motorola will continue to be a part of the process following the acquisition, Rubin indicated, but will have no inherent advantage over other manufacturers.


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