Google acquires Motorola Mobility – What this means to Google, for your small business and your potential customers in the UK?

Google have today announced that it is to purchase Motorola Mobility in a deal worth £7.6 billion.  This is by far Google’s biggest acquisition. So why are they doing it and what does it mean for small business owners and those marketing their businesses online?

Over the last year or so Google Executive Chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt has described Google as having a “mobile-first” approach to business.  It is no secret that mobile devices are rapidly becoming the first choice of many consumers and business users when it comes to conducting search.  Now this unprecedented acquisition by the Mountain-view giant seems to back that up.

So where does that leave Google’s Android operating system now they will own a piece of the ‘hardware action’.  Google have announced that they remain committed to keeping the Android operating system as an open platform, so handset companies such as HTC, Samsung and Sony Ericsson can continue to grow their Smartphone and Tablet market share with Android central to their strategy.  It simply would not make sense for Android to become a Motorola-only product.  Although just as Apple have benefitted from developing hardware and software hand in hand, Google/Motorola now stands to benefit from a similar situation.

What would be a surprise is if Motorola end up with handsets more attractive to the ever-growing army of Android devotees (150 million handsets and growing by the minute).  Again this simply would not seem to fit with Larry Page and co’s ethos.  If Android is the driving force here, rather than hardware, then it makes sense for Google to spread the net as far and wide as possible, in as short a timeframe as possible.  Getting people hooked on an operating system as means getting people hooked on the media, music etc that works best with that system. Moving over from an Android phone to an Apple could be a bg hassle for people once they are settled and visa versa.

If speculation that Android may eventually be running everything in and around the home (or cars for that matter) that has a digital screen then the race is on to hook us now.  Perhaps handsets are just one form of irresistable bait.

The leaders of the three handset manufacturers strongly associated with Android, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and HTC, have today stated that they are pleased with the announcement from Google, and the search giants commitment to supporting (or defending?) their partners.  The media appear to have run with the somewhat defensive nature of Google’s announcement…

Don’t Sue Me, I’m An Internet Giant!

Google’s reported motivation centres around the 17000 or so patents that Motorola own.  As the Android-run Samsung Galaxy tablet was recently blocked in Europe, it is perhaps a signal that Google is taking the tablet market extremely seriously too.  Distribution and uptake of Honeycomb, Google’s tablet operating system may also be accelerated by the deal.  Google’s business decision does seem partly motivated by the savings it will make through not being sued as frequently as they may have been had they not acquired the Motorola patents (historically Motorola even patented the first commercial mobile handset).  It is the protection these patents also provide to the other handset makers running Googles mobile operating system that should also help to remove barriers to the growth of Android.

The hand that rocks the mobile, is the hand that rules the…

Of course, the ever-increasing number of consumers viewing search results, social media, video and just about every other form of digital media will not have escaped Google.  If a company can produce the handset, run an ever-better operating system on it and deliver it straight into the hands of millions of people, it gives that company a huge slice (ok, even bigger slice) of the mobile internet advertising market.  It also adds an even greater knowledge of mobile search behaviour to Google’s ever-growing knowledge-base of online behaviour.

Google TV – Time for lift off?

Reports in the US have suggested Google TV is not growing as quickly as the business would have hoped, with Logitech reducing the price of Google TV set-tops boxes considerably.  The fact that Motorola produce cable TV boxes for Time Warner and many other cable companies was not lost on The Huffington Post.  They report Steve Kovach, of Business Insider, as speculating that Google wish to take advantage of the penetration Motorola have enjoyed in the set-top box market in order to advance their distribution of Google TV software.

What does this mean for small business owners in the UK?

The commitment of Google to the mobile internet and tablet market has been displayed today.  When Google make such strong moves in any market it is not without a groundswell of potential customers already being in place.  In short, it is a market-driven move, highlighting the fact that many of our customers are already, or will soon be, using their mobile devices to find information on our businesses.  The chances are that the lawyers’ loss is the mobile internet markets gain.  Less law suits over patented technology should accelerate the innovation, growth and marketing of mobile devices.

It is also likely to accelerate some of the other giants (Microsoft et al) commitment to taking their share of the mobile market.  This can only serve to enhance perceptions that the use of mobile internet is now the norm.

It is also possible that as social media is one of the most common uses for mobile internet, the roll out of Google+ will continue to have a very mobile flavour to it.

So ensuring your website is accessible on mobile devices, and across browsers on mobile devices, is clearly very important to mobile businesses. Analytics software on websites we develop and market for our clients certainly reveals the ever-growing popularity of this.