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Motorola was Google's "insurance policy" against Samsung's Android dominance

Android

By Barry Collins

Posted on 26 Feb 2013 at 09:54

Google bought Motorola as an "insurance policy", to protect itself from Samsung's dominance of the Android platform, according to reports.

The popularity of handsets such as the Galaxy S III have given Samsung a 42% share of the Android smartphone market, according to figures from IDC. No other Android vendor has double-digit market share.

Samsung's stranglehold on the Android market set off warning bells at Google, which was worried that Samsung "could flex its muscle to renegotiate its arrangement and eat into Google's lucrative mobile-ad business," sources within Google told the Wall Street Journal.

Google was so concerned that the head of Android business, Andy Rubin, reportedly told employees that Google had bought Motorola Mobility "as a kind of insurance policy" against Samsung's dominance.

Google doesn't only rely on its own hardware arm to give Samsung competition in the Android market. It's also teamed up with a variety of manufacturers, including LG, Asus and indeed Samsung itself, to produce smartphones and tablets under the Nexus brand.

However, none have proved as successful as Samsung's Galaxy range of products, which has this week been bolstered further by the launch of the Galaxy Note 8 and the announcement of the Galaxy S4, which will be unveiled in New York next month.

With other mobile operating systems such as Firefox Mobile and Ubuntu beginning to emerge, and Microsoft keen to add manufacturers to the Windows Phone 8 stable, Google may not only fear Samsung's bargaining position, but also the prospect of other manufacturers deserting Android to differentiate themselves with a new OS.

Is Samsung growing too big for Android? Read next month's PC Pro to read the team's views in Talking Point

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User comments

Follow the Money....

The people making the most cash out of selling mobile devices are Apple & Samsung. Most commentators (and common-sense)suggest that 'Branded' goods 'manufactured' and sold by the Brand, are currently what's selling.
People used to buy Apple, now it's Samsung.

I think this is, at least partly, why the 'Google' brand is beginning to come to the fore. Initially this has been clearly in partnership with ASUS, LG et al for the 'Nexus' lines, but I think that increasingly 'Google' will become more & more prominent. The Google Chromebook tends to support this view.

'Motorola' doesn't currently have major brand credibility, so maybe it will morph into 'Google'....

By wittgenfrog on 26 Feb 2013

I think Samsung have found out that running their own app store is harder than it looks. Either that or the people they got to design it were paid by Google to sabotage it. Google Play just works. Samsung's just doesn't.

By Mark_Thompson on 26 Feb 2013

Some insurance policy!

Google has done next to nothing to promote and strengthen Motorola. All Nexus phones and tablets have been based on Asian makers. None has used Motorola as its hardware base.

Motorola devices are not even among the first to get the latest versions of Android. All in all, it looks more like Google is undermining Motorola in deference to Samsung, and even the likes of HTC and LG, instead of using it as an insurance policy.

By rascar_capac on 26 Feb 2013

Some insurance policy!

Google has done next to nothing to promote and strengthen Motorola. All Nexus phones and tablets have been based on Asian makers. None has used Motorola as its hardware base.

Motorola devices are not even among the first to get the latest versions of Android. All in all, it looks more like Google is undermining Motorola in deference to Samsung, and even the likes of HTC and LG, instead of using it as an insurance policy.

By rascar_capac on 26 Feb 2013

Sources

Hmm, another news story based on conjecture. "Sources within Google" means nothing unless it's official.

David.

By artiss on 27 Feb 2013

Maturing markets

What I could have said, more succinctly, is that people are buying 'phones (and most other it kit) as 'appliances' now.

When you buy a 'Ford' car you probably don't know or care that (e.g.) Bosch made the alternator and Fuel injection, or that the Infomatics is based on Windows CE (or Android). You are buying a Ford.

People are now buying Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Sony (etc.) hardware in precisely the same way that they buy Ford, Renault or Mercedes cars, or BEKO, SMEG or Hotpoint fridges.

By wittgenfrog on 27 Feb 2013

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