Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Motoogle: BOOM! The Mobile Business Just Got Completely Blown Up

With the entry of Google into the handset-making market, the search giant has just declared a number of things, most especially that its own future is all about mobile.

With the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility, the iconic but struggling maker of mobile devices, Google has put a huge stake in the ground in this highly competitive market and thereby shaken up the entire ecosystem.

A lot of this is about patents, as Google CEO Larry Page said in his blog post about the megadeal this morning, and about acquiring a bigger portfolio that Google has long sought for its Android mobile operating system and has been unsuccessful at getting for itself, despite onerous efforts. Since Motorola has been in the mobile arena for so long, it has a large trove of important ones.

But the dramatic acquisition by Google is also a declaration that mobile is more important to it than the skein of alliances it has built for Android with phone makers worldwide, as part of its objective of making it the dominant mobile platform for smartphones and tablets globally.

While Google has been reaching out to other hardware partners to assure them, and has said they all will remain the same in Android-land, the large mobile manufacturers who have placed their trust in Google — especially Samsung or HTC — have to be wondering what to do now.

Make no mistake — they already resent Google from time to time, the way Compaq or Dell has resented Microsoft in the PC business.

But, since Google already showed favoritism to Motorola by letting them do the first Honeycomb tablet, the Xoom (although it didn’t do any good), that discomfort will only increase now.

While Google managed to get them into lockstep on today’s announcement, with a whole Web page titled “Quotes From Android Partners,” each of them using the exact same phrase “defending Android” in their quotes feels a little like they are victims of Stockholm syndrome.

Yes, we concur with everything the Borg tells us to! Defending! Android! We’re Droids too! (Calling Patty Hearst, stat!)

The impact on everyone — from Microsoft and its partner Nokia to Apple to Research In Motion and, also, to all the wireless carriers — will be felt immediately.

And, of course, by government regulators, who have watched warily as Google has marched into business after adjacent business to its core search one.

This deal — which will require approval — is sure to even further put all of Google’s businesses in the crosshairs of rivals, who will agitate for fervent investigations.

While Android has been conceived at Google and has an “autonomous unit” with the company — run by longtime mobile vet Andy Rubin — it has now entered a new and perhaps dangerous phase for all involved, including Google.

Because while such a union is not uncommon in the mobile business — Apple and RIM do software and hardware together and Google has released its own Nexus phone (made by others) — no one has done it via acquisition and in such a definitive way.

And what an acquisition it is. Or, perhaps more accurately, could be.

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.

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(Image courtesy of the United States Department of Energy)


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus