A look into Google’s future– and Motorola’s role in it

When Google announced its plans to acquire? Motorola, the world responded with a mixture of curiosity and intrigue. Was Larry Page trying to pull a Steve Jobs? Was Motorola’s threat of suing other Android partners too much of an impending thunderstorm? How was Google ever going to culturally and financially ensure that the acquisition would go off well? Or was Google telling the truth- that patents were the main reason and that it would continue to keep Motorola at arm’s length?

There may be some clue that have emerged in the last few months that we can piece together to understand the larger picture.

Strike 1: The Moto ACTV announcement

Strike 2: The Set Top Box Business and Google TV

Strike 3: Android’s partnership with Intel and Marvell

Strike 4: Driverless cars and Google X

Strike 5: The mysterious Sonos clone

I don’t see mobile phones or tablets anywhere. So the way I see this is that Google doesn’t need Motorola to make any more phones or tablets – the ecosystem has now reached a point where its very own momentum is sufficient to propel mobile phones and tablets forward. As long as Samsung, HTC and LG are locked in a war of pushing the Android envelope forward, Google can afford to distract itself with side projects on connected homes, driverless cars and anything that will help them know more about you. Its even teaming up with the dark horse in low power computing, Intel……notwithstanding the current might of ARM in this space, will the post PC era be defined by the the clout of  “Antel?”

Meanwhile Google also has the luxury of using Motorola as a whip for its Android Licensees, lest Samsung of HTC start to get lethargic- think of the original Droid. Coming on the heels of duds like the G1 and The Droid came out when Google was struggling to find momentum in the market, and served as an exhibition of what the Android platform was capable of doing.

This is what other platforms need to be wary of- that Google’s ambition transcends mobile computing to encompass all connected devices. Think being able to connect your grocery shopping with your refrigerator with your fitness monitor with your location history on dining out and viewing your dashboard on any browser. Think all embedded systems that will be connected. That is a massive opportunity given all dumb devices from your clothes iron to your thermostat are going to be connected with one another.

This is more than contextual text based ads, for screen space in these devices (if at all present) is limited. Its about Google building a better base to understand and connect to deliver better advertising. Combine this with the increasing evolution of powerful hardware and interactive elements like screens, these devices become channels for Google’s ads.   All the while, Motorola serves as the whip to push the envelope on “connected devices” – from durables to equipment to clothes to cars.

There is no other contender in this space with either the presence or the clout to build such a massive ecosystem.  Apple and Microsoft have a tremendous presence in computing, but have differing ways of approaching it. Apple’s ambitions are restricted to areas where it can control the hardware, and Microsoft simply hasn’t looked beyond computers. RIM with its QNX presence has a fleeting presence in areas such as automobiles and heavy machinery but does it have the runway or the might of the big G?

In a lot of ways, it’s the platform wars all over again, with Google leading the way- and at this time it is best positoned to win.

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