updated 01:15 pm EDT, Mon October 3, 2011
Google's Schmidt tries assuaging over Moto deal
Google chairman Eric Schmidt vowed in an interview that the buyout of Motorola wouldn't "screw up" the dynamics of the smartphone business. Despite Google owning a hardware company that would compete against others, the executive was confident with Bloomberg that the playing field would be level. The industry couldn't afford to be skewed to one firm or another, he said.
"We need strong, hard competition among all the Android players," Schmidt elaborated. "We won't play favorites in the way people are concerned about."
The statements are potentially disingenuous given some of Schmidt's own remarks. Just last month, he acknowledged that the $12.5 billion purchase was also for hardware, not just patent defense. Leaks have suggested that Google may well < ahref="http://www.electronista.com/articles/11/08/17/google.motorola.to.make.integrated.phones.too/">follow an iPhone strategy, giving Motorola an advantage over partners as it gets first access to Android updates or their best features.
Publicly, HTC, Samsung, and other major Android developers have endorsed the deal, although it's not certain that the statements are sincere. Each company asked to provide a quote for the deal had a very similar phrasing to each other that suggested they were coaxed into public support they wouldn't have given otherwise.
Along with providing a possible way to counter patent lawsuits targeted at Android, the Motorola acquisition is informally considered an admission that custom OS layers have diluted the experience Google wanted to provide. Outside of Google's own Nexus phones and a handful of usually low-end devices on Virgin Mobile and elsewhere, nearly every Android phone runs a custom interface, including those from Motorola. These both frequently obscure Android for the user and lead to significant delays in OS updates.