Googarola: What it Means for Mobile Developers

Google is now in the hardware business. This move puts them firmly in control of the entire value chain. No matter what they say about having an open platform, Google is now competing with all of its handset OEM “partners” including HTC, LG, Samsung and others. I am really curious to see what they all think now that they are competing against Google.

  • No matter how Google describes this move, ownership of Motorola really flies in the face of the Open Handset Alliance and, even if they continue to treat all their partners the same, the ecosystem will have some level of distrust when it comes to Motorola handsets. When you own the hardware and the software, you own the stack and it’s very tough for others to compete. Apple has forced Google into this position. You can bet this is also going to force Microsoft’s hand in this as well; they have to make the same play and move into hardware. Not a stretch to see that happen. But building a complete platform, the entire stack like Apple has done, is no trivial thing. You need look no further than RIM for example.
  • Android is only getting stronger. However, we see this opening a ton of opportunity for developers on alternative platforms, especially MeeGo, webOS and Windows Phone 7. We are going to see a shift in resources to alternate platforms. Everyone believes there will be a third platform. Now is a good time to make that play. Windows Phone 7 is a good bet – Microsoft has always had one of the biggest ecosystems; now its mobile platform is even more attractive to developers. The latest version of Windows Phone (Mango) is getting good buzz and that puts Microsoft in a strong position to dominate.
  • However, Microsoft is going to have to make a play into the hardware market; hence the jump in Nokia’s stock this morning.

At the end of the day, this announcement means one thing: Google is betting big on mobile. In addition to owning the entire stack, it also picked up 24,000 patents as well as Motorola’s set-top-box business. This is huge, and it’s directly aimed at where Apple is and others have been trying to follow. For service providers with platform-agnostic strategies, including Urban Airship, this is awesome news.