Friday 19 August 2011

Google, Motorola, HP & Autonomy

OK so it's been a while since the last post ... I've been pretty busy enjoying a new role at the TSB, but I couldn't ignore the recent corporate announcements...

So Google buys Motorola Mobile, acquires alot of patents, and says that its Android eco-system for third party hardware partnerships is intact, well maybe for now, but it will be interesting to see how long so called partners like LG, Samsung and HTC feel that they are as equal as Motorola, and stick with Android or cross the bridge to Microsoft and do deals like Nokia have already done. Even the patents Google has bought are not in the important areas of innovative user interface or hardware/software integration (which can be used to defend innovation in the marketplace). Instead they are in the areas of radio and network technology which like Nokia's portfolio can really only be used to extract royalties from others who use those technologies in their products. In 2007, Apple reinvented the phone and changed the mobile industry for good. This week, Google has changed the marketplace again, by effectively dis-incentivising a whole set of traditional mobile phone hardware vendors from having Android as part of their mobile strategy.

And then HP gives up its PC and mobile device businesses. This effectively wipes the traditional lineage of PC vendors (Apollo, DEC, Compaq, and Palm) off the map forever. HP have taken action to stop the haemorrhaging caused by selling large volumes of barely profit-making devices. You might think this is so that they can switch focus from PCs of the past to mobile computing devices of the future. However, with $100m being written off to pay distributors that are resorting to giving away HP tablet products in order to shift inventory, HP have also announced that they are killing off their mobile devices too, to focus on software and printers. They have also been spending by acquiring innovative firm Autonomy, although how HP's remaining hardware will benefit from this is yet to be explained. The ex-Palm employees must feel the most hit upon, having had their distinctive hardware and WebOS system software destroyed, the latter having been strangled by poor quality hardware that no-one wanted to buy. The PC landscape changed today.