Google doesn’t plan to do anything to spoil Android, including giving advantages to Motorola Mobility, saying instead that competition will keep the OS strong.
The search engine giant and Android OS owner will also enter the smartphone business if federal regulators approve Google’s plans to buy Motorola for $12.5 billion, a prospect that concerns Motorola’s competitors. However, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt today said they have no reason to worry.
“The Android ecosystem is the number-one priority, and that we won’t do anything with Motorola, or anybody else by the way, that would screw up the dynamics of that industry,” Schmidt said. “We need strong, hard competition among all the Android players. We won’t play favorites in the way people are concerned about.”
However, at least two major cell phone companies are shifting away from Android, and more may follow if they believe Google is favoring Motorola over them.
HTC, which made its name on Android phones, started ramping up its Windows models, http://www.mobiledia.com/news/104124.html, releasing its first two Windows Mango models just last month. Samsung, which has also made money from Android phones, reportedly plans to emphasize its own Bada OS, and plans to open the platform up for developers as early as next year.
Schmidt also said Google plans to shore up the Android ecosystem overall with its Motorola purchase, which may reassure cell phone makers who looking for other options. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company stands to gain a significant portfolio of patents if the buyout goes through, and Schmidt said the company isn’t afraid to use them to protect Android.
“From our perspective, we will end up having enough patents that we can end up with a rough truce with everybody else, which is how it’s done,” Schmidt said. “We’re actually very happy with Motorola… I’m quite sure that protecting the Android system, making sure Android innovation can occur broadly.”
Google may well need that huge patent portfolio in upcoming months. Many analysts believe the company is heading for a battle by proxy with Apple, but Microsoft is actually Google’s main challenge for the near future. Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith last week said all Android products infringe on Microsoft’s patents.
Microsoft already won two lucrative licensing deals against Android, bringing the tech company more money than its own Windows Phone handset sales. For example, HTC pays Microsoft $5 for each sale of its Android phones, and Samsung last week penned a licensing agreement for an undisclosed amount.
Such cases may indicate that while Android is a strong platform and may grow stronger with the Motorola Mobility purchase, it may still face challenges that cause cell phone makers to look for other alternatives.
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