This week, Google announced its acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Initial reports on the merger cited patent acquisition as the primary strategy behind the deal. While there are patent wars raging in Silicon Valley, this is only a small piece of an overall strategy that puts Apple and it’s mobile devices in the crosshairs.
The thing that has always set Apple apart is its design. It is probably the best company in the world at creating excellent user interface products, whether that is the original Mac OS or the most recent generation of the iPhone. For all its quirks that drive some techies mad, Apple has always won on elegant, simple, well designed, easy-to-use visual and tactile interfaces. This is what has separated the iPhone from the many third-party manifestations of the Android OS.
While many criticize Apple for implementing locked-down integration and a draconian oppression over app development for iOS, it is that control that allows Apple to innovate quickly and create beautiful and seamless user interactions with their products. Now with Google’s acquisition of Motorola Google levels the playing field with the ability to fully integrate product design and software engineering. The question remains, however, can they out-design the greatest design firm the world has ever seen?
I don’t see this acquisition as a game-tying 60-yard Google touchdown pass just before halftime, but rather Google’s 10th and 11th players finally pulling into the parking lot, buckling their chinstraps, and getting into to the game hoping to make up some ground and somehow dethrone the champs in the second half. They finally have the potential to play with Apple. Whether they can do it or not still remains to be seen.
Google CEO Larry Page is certainly determined to improve user interface: “Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers.”
If they are to be successful, it will be because they have completely integrated the product development side of the business that Motorola brings to the table, rather than treating them as a proprietary third-party integrator of their software.