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Impact Analysis: Google buys out Moto (Part IV- Would the operator become more redundant)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 21, 2011

Read Part I, Part II and Part III

Google is pulling off an acquisition that is larger than any that Microsoft, Apple, or any of their other main competitors ever have. The Moto acquisition is either the smartest thing Google has ever done, or the dumbest. A $12.5 billion deal in cash, with a $2.5 billion collapse clause? There is no in-between
In a series of blogs over the next few days, I would be analyzing the impact of the Google-Moto deal in terms of:
1. Patents Leverage
2. Platform/Hardware Competence
3. Eco-system view
4. Impact on Telcos

Impact on Telcos

There are some interesting potential side effects of this deal, such as in the broader consumer electronics space. Motorola could help Google turn around the disaster that has been Google TV. Motorola makes a huge percentage of the set top boxes that the cable companies use to push their over-priced content at you.

This then brings us to another interesting fall-out of this deal- How will the telcos react to Google taking over the role of content provider as well as the device maker. Google has long harboured intent of becoming a media business with emphasis on the content delivery. Google would still be riding on the Telco pipes, which would further re-inforce dumb pipe syndrome. This deal is just another blow to the traditional telcos, pushing them further towards commoditization and being a pipe. How will they fight back? Is their future only in providing the connection? This will be interesting.

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Impact Analysis: Google buys out Moto (Part III- Impact on the present day partners and eco-system)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 17, 2011

Read Part I and Part II

Google is pulling off an acquisition that is larger than any that Microsoft, Apple, or any of their other main competitors ever have. The Moto acquisition is either the smartest thing Google has ever done, or the dumbest. A $12.5 billion deal in cash, with a $2.5 billion collapse clause? There is no in-between

In a series of blogs over the next few days, I would be analyzing the impact of the Google-Moto deal in terms of:
1. Patents Leverage
2. Platform/Hardware Competence
3. Eco-system view/ Impact on OEM partners
4. Impact on Telcos

Eco-system view/ Impact on OEM partners

Google says they will continue to run Motorola as a separate business. Again, given its size, that’s about all they can do. Google also says that this will not change their commitment to Android being “open” and to their other OEM partners. Another compelling argument in favour of the Google-Moto deal is that, this is a strategic buy for Google in order to exert more control over the Android eco-system. Google says they will continue to run Motorola as a separate business. Again, given its size, that’s about all they can do. Google also says that this will not change their commitment to Android being “open” and to their other OEM partners. Many including myself, however, believe that it will not be very practical and possible to keep the Android “open” and as impartial given the $12.5 investment in Moto. Beneath all the sweet talk with the other partners, all the larger partners of the eco-system are disingenuous with their positive statements and sentiments. Carrots rarely work in the “open” Android eco-system. With Motorola in their back pocket, Google now has another stick to use when the carrots don’t work: Control on the Google device. With Moto, Google has the capability and competence in devices, which in turn is pretty handy to apply to pressure the other OEMs to force them to do better work.

What this means for the other significant partners of the Android eco-system: Samsung, Sony-Ericsson and HTC. There are two points on that
1. The OEMs were not dumb not to have anticipated this move. Thus Samsung moved into making the Bada.
2. The World of OEMs would now split into Loyalists (Moto for Android, Nokia for Microsoft) and the multi-platform vendors (Samsung, HTC, SE). This move could drive some of those OEMs to give a second look at Windows Phone as Android alternatives. Microsoft will have to deliver a truly competitive consumer mobile operating system to take advantage of this opportunity and chip away a few of the big OEMs from the Android camp.

With the loyalists (Samsung, SE and HTC) now moving into frienemy space, Android may loose some momentum in the numbers that it kept on pilling for sometime now. The decider or qualifier for Android’s success will be the pace of Android’s extension across multiple other platforms, eco-systems and device categories. For instance, Google TV will necessarily have to fire to keep the Android registers ringing… V2V systems will be another decider in terms of number of Android activations. The trade-off that Android will have is its capability to extend across platforms versus the rate at which its partners desert it.

Impact Analysis: Google buys out Moto (Part II- Made for each other)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on August 16, 2011

Read Part I

Google is pulling off an acquisition that is larger than any that Microsoft, Apple, or any of their other main competitors ever have. The Moto acquisition is either the smartest thing Google has ever done, or the dumbest. A $12.5 billion deal in cash, with a $2.5 billion collapse clause? There is no in-between

In a series of blogs over the next few days, I would be analyzing the impact of the Google-Moto deal in terms of:
1. Patents Leverage
2. Platform/Hardware Competence
3. Eco-system view
4. Impact on Telcos

Platform/Hardware Competence

On one hand, Google and the Android OEMs share the common objective of maximizing Android activations. However with this one deal, Google is now a powerful, wealthy competitor, one that is impatient with the long lead times in the hardware business.

Nexus Prime is the next Google Flagship smartphone on the horizon.. and while Google maintains that the vendor for each of its Smartphones is chosen through a democratic process, and the process might as well be as democratic as ever, Google’s acquisition of Moto gives it the necessary competences it was lacking in devices. One way or another, the existence of Motorola as a Google company is going to affect Android and its current device partners. The key here is Control. After all, its the tight control over both hardware and software is what allows Apple products to be Apple products.

Earlier, Google used to not care about design, but now is starting to which is why the Nexus series was born in the first case. I suspect Google’ll (or already has) start to care more about full control over their products — both hardware and software. They’ll see that the overall consumer experience is tied to both — they’re not mutually exclusive. And Motorola gives them the opportunity to fully explore this.

An integrated offering is the new mobile nirvana. Apple controls the software and hardware for its phones. Android from Google is popular but splintered. Google can now set a hardware/software agenda. Also doing rounds is the rumour that Google is working at making an ad sponsored software model for mobility. Moto can provide a platform for sponsorship. The Moto-Google partnership can also provide an ideal integrated platform for the go-to-mobile video solution that is being prepared by Google for YouTube.

Google’s penchant for control of the device experience is a great initiative. However, how it goes down with its current partners is an answer that will unfold in times to come.

To be continued

Impact Analysis: Google buys out Moto (Part I- Of Lawsuits and Patents)

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on August 15, 2011

Google is pulling off an acquisition that is larger than any that Microsoft, Apple, or any of their other main competitors ever have. The Moto acquisition is either the smartest thing Google has ever done, or the dumbest. A $12.5 billion deal in cash, with a $2.5 billion collapse clause? There is no in-between

In a series of blogs over the next few days, I would be analyzing the impact of the Google-Moto deal in terms of:
1. Patents Leverage
2. Platform/Hardware Competence
3. Eco-system view
4. Impact on Telcos

Of Lawsuits and Patents

Google justified its investment in Motorola as an effort to “protect Android and its eco-system” from Apple, Microsoft and others. This will provide more balance and a better defensive position for Android, which was getting killed in court. Google CEO Larry Page wrote in an Aug. 15 corporate blog posting. “Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.”

This deal is clearly about patents. If Motorola didn’t have thousands of patents, there is no way this deal would have happened. For Google to have bid 63% premium for Motorola (at $12.5bn with a $2.5bn disengagement penalty), inspite of the fact that Moto is loosing money, is doubling Google’s headcount and is in a severe quagmire in terms of lawsuits, patents have been the overwhelming cause. In losing the Nortel patent auction to Apple, Microsoft, RIM, and others, Google lost out on 6,000+ patents. With a battle over the InterDigital patents just getting started, there was a pretty decent chance they were going to lose another 8,800+ to their rivals. But with the Motorola buy, Google gains at least 17,000 patents. And if some other applications go through, perhaps as many as 25,000 patents. In one fell-swoop. Crazy.

It raises Google’s patent pool from around 2,000 — over 1,000 of which are from a deal they just did with IBM — to around 20,000. That’s around what Microsoft has. And nearly double what Apple has.

However, its not the number. Motorola’s patent pool may not go far enough to cancel out some key patents owned by Google’s main rivals: Apple and Microsoft. Apple and Microsoft, have the upper hand in most of the critical patents. That is something that the Google lawyers will have to figure out in terms of defending the Moto patent turf. In any case, 17,000 is a leverage and Google has the capability for to better leverage that number compared to Moto.

It can also be seen as defensive strategy from Google. Google buying Motorola out could also be a response to stop Moto from settling with Apple and/or Microsoft on the patent issues. Such a settlement would have been a big blow to the entire Android ecosystem. Perhaps not quite as bad as Samsung agreeing to license patents from Microsoft (joining HTC and others), but bad. Microsoft was also negotiating to buy at least Motorola’s patent portfolio.
Google’s acquisition could also drive its competitors into buying frenzies of their own. RIM suddenly becomes very valuable for its patent horde. HP, Apple or Microsoft should quickly move to buy RIM for its patents and also [BlackBerry Enterprise Server], the crown jewel.

to be continued

Motorola gaining in Android strength

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on October 14, 2010

Four years back, the Motorola Razr was the most happening handset in terms of its looks, forms and style quotient. However, having delivered Razr and generated volumes through the Slvr series, Motorola got stuck. All its new line-up was strangely Razr looking and the form factor was extended to the point where it was over-used and lost all its charm and novelty. That was Moto’s last big platform which leveraged them to the tops in North America and brought them in a striking distance of Nokia elsewhere, but then the Razr platform also was the chief cause of Motorola’s fall. Motorola leadership got “stuck” to the Razr and didnot innovate ahead. That was the last we heard of Moto. Sales plummeted, Shares nose-dived, Moto Mobiles was dead and even went to the point of being bought over by some very dubious buyers.

But then Android happened and the Motorola CEO, Sanjay Jha was quick to identify the Android platform as the next big thing in 2008 and consequently diverted all of the Moto Smartphone portfolio to Android. Android, the new kid on the block also needed a pedigreed OEM for partnering with it in its infancy.The rest (in cliche) is history!

Android and Motorola delivered the most stunning Droid/Milestone last November and beat iPhone in becoming the best gadget of the year by Time magazine. From the launch of Droid to others such as Backflip, Sholes Tablet XT720 to the Droid II and the Droid X, i have been following Moto as they have inched forward slowly and slowly gaining acceptability and credibility all the time yet again. The good news is that Moto clawed back into Black after 8 quarters of Red last quarter.

If the earlier bits were the beginning of a recovery, then the recent device announcements made by Moto should be seen as an indication that Moto is going strong and has for most parts recovered from its 3 year stint “down in the ditch”.


The Android-Motorola line up announced. Please click on picture for detailed specs

The new Portfolio of Motos on Android power are a very interesting lot. They are as good as it gets in devices and theres no beating that. The range goes from Full Touch to QWERTY phones to Slider QWERTYs to Side Slider QWERTYs to Twist QWERTYs. 2 of the 7 Androids cover CDMA and Moto has covered 3 of the 4 US operators: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as its partner. Motorola has also covered most of the target groups with different form factors: Business Users, Style Seekers, teens, Casual Users, Heavy Messaging Buffs and more. The portfolio announced is seriously potent and with Android, the only was Moto smartphones will move is upwards.

For the emerging Markets Motorola is looking the Mediatek way and is trying to leverage its scale to source devices from Chinese ODMs. The EX115 and EX 128 are two prime examples of the focus on emerging markets. The challenge however in the emerging markets is that Motorola is weak in distribution and there are just too many competitors offering same specs at more value for money prices. Beating that is going to be tough and Moto will need to take a holistic and integrated approach to its mid and low end strategy in this segment.

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Moto Rising (Part II): Droid Succession

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 4, 2010

A day after the first post on Motorola’s new rise with the Android devices, we had speculated about Moto’s future flagship. Fortuitously, Moto seems to be readying its future flagship and this post covers the Droid II (or possibly Nexus Two)

Shadow, Droid II, Nexus Two: The device and the names may be confusing, but amidst all confusion what comes through is that Motorola is at it, releasing smartphone after smartphone and this time it looks like it is the successor of Droid, the Droid II that Moto is readying laying to rest the question: What after Droid?

There are two stories on Droid II and Nexus Two. One that The Nexus Two has become Droid II which means there is no Nexus two in ranks. The second is that the device has two variants: Nexus Two (without the Keyboard) and Droid II (with the keyboard). Motorola Shadow / Droid 2 / Nexus Two will have a 4.3″ touchscreen with 854 x 480 pixels resolution and 8MP camera with dual LED flash and HD video recording (most likely 720p) plus an HDMI out. Other spec includes the TI OMAP 3630 processor clocked at 720MHz, 512MB RAM, Android 2.1 with MOTOBLUR (or maybe v2.2 Froyo) in a very thin and light body. The Droid II/ Nexus Two will also sport a WiFi readiness.

The heartening thing in the whole story is the rise of Moto and its Android machines. Slightly let down with the “almost” Droid looks though. Lets hope Droid II does what its designated to and proves Moto detractors “One Pony Moto story” wrong.

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Moto Rising

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 2, 2010

Motorola Android launches are beginning to gain traction in the market. Here’s profiling Moto’s rising…

This is a continuation of the Moto story which started in November with the launch of Droid. Read the blog here.

The Moto Droid/Milestone was instrumental in turning the fortunes of Motorola around. The success of Moto Droid/Milestone can be gauged from the fact that there were comparisons between the Droid and the iPhone and was chosen Time Magazine’s device of the year 2009.It also ranked highest (Android device) in terms of % of web traffic by Admob for March 2010. The Droid/Milestone has arguably done its bit very well in terms of Motorola’s better-than-expected first quarter—a profit of $69 million, or 3 cents a share, on revenue of $5 billion. The Moto comeback has been overshadowed by competition worries. Simply put, Moto cannot rest on its Droid laurels—or hit smartphone—for very long. With competition increasingly, what will replace the Droid (right) in Motorola’s lineup is going to be critical. For now, there are no signs that Droid sales are going to fall off dramatically. However, the Droid will have to battle a bevy of HTC devices for shelf space and Android flag-ship status. The HTC Incredible is already getting rave views some putting it at par with iPhone and better than it. Google has been pushing HTC’s new phone and innovation (a spot of bother for Motorola). Even though Android is the fastest innovative platform in wireless and Motorola will not be missing in action with regards to Android, but Moto needs to ensure its stays ahead versus HTC in the reckoning for the Android OS.

The good news is that Motorola isn’t a one or two device pony—the company plans 20 smartphones with shipments of 12 million to 14 million in 2010—but there isn’t a clear successor to the Droid just yet. There is some action on this front after the launch of Droid already and the carrier tie-ups are impressive and should be able to give Moto traction in consumer space.

MotoBlur (Moto’s one stop Social networking platform for its phones) remains an important cog in Motorola’s smartphone lineup and will be featured on the majority of devices.The MotoBlur has seen some traction from carriers and users and given the usage data that it generates, MotoBlur could be very incidental in Moto’s understanding of usage and consumption to serve its customers best. MotoBlur will leverage social media, Location aware services and leaner data consumption to push convergence to its users.

Moto CEO Sanjay Jha has made it clear that the company will not be pursuing its own OS. Jha stated that an OS makes sense only if there is an ecosystem, services, and the ability and the scale to execute on keeping that OS at the leading edge. (In absence of these three components fully), Jha is unequivocally taking the Google Open Source route to OSs, Applications and others. Amongst other things, I call that Focus and keeping resources, intent and goals focused on devices while letting Google do what it does best. (Quite unlike the Finns really)

Given the success of iPad, Motorola also sees a spike in media consumption habits and devices used at Home and creating a home based eco-system in the near future. The Tablet and other form factors and solutions would thus form an integral part of the Moto roadmaps going forward.

Moto was just too good to write it off, and after gone through 3yrs of oblivion, Motorola seems to be coming out of its dark days. There’s more that needs to be done to stay ahead but currently Moto seems set for a good Q2 and more.. We will watch this space.

The Moto Android partnership timeline

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Droid Does!(iPhone doesn’t)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on November 5, 2009

The iPhone was officially released in mid 2007. In two and half years, it has captured the fanfare and frenzy of the device and telecom geeks acquiring the status of an Icon and fuelling Apple’s growth story.

There have been many challengers from Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and others, but iPhone has held its ground because it combines a glitzy UI, a remarkable device and a 100 thousand strong applications store to its strength. That doesnot stop the challengers from take shots at the frailties of the iPhone.

One of the strongest challenge to iPhone yet is the upcoming Motorola Droid on the Verizon Network and backed by the new Android OS 2.0 (Eclair). That is a strong proposition and they have their sights set on iPhone if the “Droid Does” campaign is to seen. Watch the video here.

The latest in this round is the Droid stealth commercial which is an announcer of the launch date amidst a hyper technology scenario. Catch the video here!

What the “Droid does” to the “iPhone” will be an interesting thing to watch. Watch this space.

Read more about the Droid here! https://ronnie05.wordpress.com/2009/10/21/1141u/

Moto Droid: A lot rides on it!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on October 21, 2009

There have been many contenders to iPhone’s best smartphone crown and yet none have really come close to the Apple’s prodigy (check statistic). On the other hand, Motorola has been lying dead for 3 odd years. (When was the last time, Razr was hot?). But then, all it takes is one strong offering to win back consumer confidence and cheers. (Ask Palm!). Earlier this month, Moto announced the Cliq, a social networking machine (Pic Below).And while it’s unlikely the new Moto Droid will knock the iPhone off its perch as the top consumer smartphone in the world, it could be in a position to pose the most serious challenge yet to the iPhone’s unquestioned supremacy.

JDP II  

Cliq

Powered by Android and backed by Verizon, Droid has the right combination of strong hardware, Google’s brand strength and Verizon’s network that could present the iPhone with a formidable foe over the next few months.

 Here’s how the stack up: The Droid versus the iPhone.

Droid versus iPhone

The real test of Moto Droid will be when the rubber hits the road. It stacks up well against the iPhone! On other terms a lot of other successes including that of Android as a platform and Verizon’s flagship devie depends on the success of Droid.

We will watch the game.

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