Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Editorial: Google, Microsoft and the incredible shifting mobile landscape

In two years, we'll mark the thirtieth anniversary of the first commercially available cellphone -- built by Motorola, incidentally. Given this week's big news from Google, and other big events that we can only presume are yet to come, those two years may also prove to be some of the most interesting yet for the mobile industry.

One of the more telling things about Google's acquisition announcement on Monday was the response from Motorola's competitors (and Google's partners). Immediately following the news, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and LG all came out to praise Google's commitment to "defending Android," which presumably also means that they remain committed to using Android. What's more, as Google itself has made explicitly clear recently, it's not just defending Android as any company would defend its own product, but defending it against what it's described as "hostile" and "organized" threat from Apple and Microsoft (and, to a lesser extent, Oracle).

That increasingly hostile footing and a further-bolstered Google (assuming the acquisition goes through) also now creates some clearer lines and an entirely new dynamic between the major players in the mobile industry. Google and Microsoft are now taking similar approaches by licensing out their operating system to others while also having a hand in hardware development (by proxy with Nokia in the case of Microsoft). Neither are about to go as completely independent as Apple has, of course, but they both seem to have decided that it's no longer enough to just focus on software and leave manufacturers entirely to their own devices.

That leaves RIM and HP who, like Apple, are each trying to go it alone with their own hardware and mobile operating system -- although HP is apparently open to the idea of licensing webOS if it has any takers (an option that seems to be getting less and less likely). The question now is will they succeed by staying out of the fray, or will they be forced to join it and choose sides?

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Editorial: Google, Microsoft and the incredible shifting mobile landscape originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 17 Aug 2011 17:15:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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