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Danger on the Horizon for Google/Motorola and Microsoft

Caroline Gabriel

Caroline GabrielGoogle Inc. has just completed the purchase of cell phone mainstay Motorola Mobility, Inc. in its effort to stave off litigation and further dominate the smartphone landscape.  Additionally, Microsoft Corp. has declared that the forthcoming Windows 8 operating system will far outsell any of its prior platforms by a large margin. Lastly, smartphone market share numbers hold some surprises while mobile malware attacks are on the rise.

Experton Group Point of View: Motorola has a chance to flourish under Google control; however, the oft-touted marriage benefits of the company's large patent portfolio may indeed prove to be the only value to the Google. The merger has even less in common than the Hewlett-Packard Co./Palm combination, and in that case, HP had extensive experience managing hardware development and production complexities. Motorola pushes forward without a clearly defined path, a new executive lacking in hardware experience, and hardware development partners that could soon get skittish on Android usage. Google is taking a big risk with this purchase and it may not work to their advantage on either the hardware or software fronts.

IT executives may find smartphone OS choices shifting away from Android and towards other platforms if Google is unable to improve Android security, promote and enforce consistency across platforms, and maintain positive relationships with hardware partners. While it would be nice if Motorola could regain its former glory while moving its hardware business into the black, this is far less important to Android's future than the issues that have plagued the platform for years. Ballmer’s 500 million Windows 8 devices by the end of 2013 is not only unlikely, it is hard to believe it is even possible. As with all first revision offerings, enterprises are advised to wait out Windows 8 deployments for at least one year while the initial issues in radically redesigned platform are addressed. Moreover, the disjointed nature of the new touch-based Metro UI interface oddly juxtaposed with the traditional Windows schema is odd and Experton Group believes will be substantially reworked via service packs to speed slow customer adoption rates. The smartphone and tablet markets remain an uphill battle for Microsoft, and while Metro works well in these applications, a Windows 8 backlash coupled with a fragile and still-developing app ecosystem may stymie sales. IT executives are advised to take a "wait and see" approach to Windows 8 in all its incarnations.

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