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Google-Motorola deal causes tension in mobile market

Posted: 17 Aug 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:acquisition? Android ecosystem? Web-connected TV?

Google's Motorola acquisition is causing tension among its competitors in the smartphone, tablet and TV market. The company has already said that Android will not make any changes on how it manages access to Android and also promised that Motorola will run as a separate company. But the Web search giant still needs to figure out to keep handset and set-top businesses at arm's length.

In a conference call announcing the acquisition plan, Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president for mobile, gave insight on the company's evolving development process.

"We select around Christmas time each year a manufacturer to work closely with to release a device [and] that includes [their] semiconductor and key component [suppliers]," Rubin said. "Teams huddle together in one building for nine to 12 months and at or right before the next holiday season, the device pops out," he said.

Andy Rubin

Rubin: Lead development process and Android remains open to other partners.

"We don't expect that to change at all [after the Motorola acquisition]," said Rubin. All Android partners "will be part of that bidding process" presumably to be chosen for a collaboration effort "and that lead development process and Android remains open to other partners," he added.

Relationship with OEMs
However, when the company used that process to carefully stage access to its Honeycomb version of Android for tablets, Google left many OEMs feeling left in the lurch.

Google worked with Motorola and key chip suppliers on its Xoom, the first Honeycomb tablet. It then worked with a handful of other top tier OEMs for tablets that followed a few months later. Other OEMs are still waiting for the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, the first open source release of Android that will include the Honeycomb code.

In addition, mobile systems makers in Taiwan, who make as much as 90 percent of the world's notebook PCs, said Google provides virtually no local support for their efforts. By contrast, Microsoft has a long tradition of working closely with Taiwanese companies such as Compal, Foxconn, Inventec and Quanta.

Google provided quotes from top execs at HTC, LG Electronics, Samsung and Sony-Ericsson saying they support the Motorola deal as a way to protect the Android ecosystem. However, it appeared from the Google conference call that those companies were only very recently briefed on the plan.

"I spoke yesterday to I think it was the top five Android licensees and they all showed enthusiastic support for the deal," Rubin said.

Google chief executive Larry Page suggested he participated in the calls.

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