What’s Google/Motorola All About?

Bloggers and analysts have spilled a lot of ink and electrons about Google’s move to buy Motorola Mobility. The comments tend to fall into two camps: Google’s brilliant; Android’s dead.

I think Google may be playing a deeper game than many give them credit for.

Personally, I’m in the camp that thinks Google’s hardware partners will have a problem with Google competing with them.While it’s possible that Google checked out the acquisition with these partners before going ahead, I don’t think so. Not only does that not seem to be their style, why would they tip their hand to competitors who might want to mount their own bid for the struggling Motorola?

It seems to me that Google is too smart not to know that owning a hardware maker might alienate their hardware partners, and thus the plan may be to spin the hardware portion of Moto back out, keeping the patents and possibly some of the talent.

Taking a look at Google’s play at buying wireless spectrum back in 2007-2008 might be instructive. At that time, the ink and electron spew was all about two things: Could Google really change their business model to morph into a telecom provider, and would they offer free, advertiser-supported services on the bandwidth if they obtained it?

It turned out that Google’s spectrum bid was a ploy to force the price up so the winner had to be more net neutral, based on “open access” requirements set down by the Second Report and Order released by the FCC.

That wasn’t as it seemed either and I suspect we’ll be hearing about plans to sell Moto Mobility to HTC or Samsung in the future.

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