Today Google takes a page from Apple’s playbook, announcing its intention to acquire Motorola’s handset division (MMI) for $12.5 billion. The resulting merger should provide Google with plenty of opportunities to streamline the behavior of the hardware and OS for the benefit of consumers.
At the same time, it will put Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” code of conduct to the test. For example, in the past Apple has used their hardware/software dominance to track users’ location without their consent. And Apple still disables third-party cookies by default to make it that much harder for competitors to play in the targeting / advertising ecosystem. The opportunities for Google’s mobile environment to become less open, a la Apple, now that it own both the OS and the device, are significant.
The Android network currently includes 39 device manufacturers. Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, is quoted in today’s press release as saying, “We expect that this combination will enable us to break new ground for the Android ecosystem. However, our vision for Android is unchanged and Google remains firmly committed to Android as an open platform and a vibrant open source community. We will continue to work with all of our valued Android partners to develop and distribute innovative Android-powered devices.”
While the prospects for the players in the Android ecosystem are less certain, Android consumers and Google shareholders should be pleased with the news.
You can read Larry Page’s view on the acquisition here.