One of the single, biggest threats to Apple’s market share lead in the tablet space is Samsung’s sleek, elegant and effective Galaxy Tab 10.1 -- a product so strong that Apple was reduced to suing Samsung before the malleable European antitrust police.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 brings together all that’s great about the Android ecosystem: hardware that you can work on all day with intuitive software, supporting a full universe of enterprise and consumer apps. Samsung’s investment in the Android platform has been fast, furious and successful -- despite Apple’s EU legal strategy.
Samsung is everything in a manufacturer that Google should want for the fledgling Android platform. Samsung’s efforts have placed Google in a position to compete much more strongly with both Apple and Microsoft in a meaningful way in tablets.
But Google has decided to slap that hand that is feeding Android to the market.
By announcing a deal to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, Google has now gone from the number one tablet partner for Samsung and other companies leveraging Android -- including Acer, Toshiba, Lenovo and Asus – to becoming their number one rival.
What Google is doing would be like Microsoft buying Dell, and then trying to convince every other PC maker that everybody gets the same deal on Windows 7.
The deal looks, as many say, as if Google’s strategy revolves around acquiring Motorola’s rich patent library, which has merit given that the big mobility vendors have been spending almost as much time in courthouses lately as they have in the labs. There were other ways for Google to reach that end, including a conventional licensing deal. But Motorola shareholders, led by Carl Icahn, have been pushing for an outright sale of the company. They succeeded. Icahn issued a statement calling this “a great outcome for ALL shareholders of Motorola Mobility.” (That was Icahn using caps for the word “all.”)
With Motorola in its lineup, Google would have the capability of practically giving away for free mobile hardware and software in exchange for lock-in to its Android platform and, by the way, Google search and advertising -- where it still has near- or actual monopoly power. Along the way, other tablet and handset manufacturers could be placed at a marked disadvantage.
For its part, Microsoft is months away from launching Windows 8, and today published a new blog designed to encourage public feedback and input in its development of the new platform. Steven Sinofsky, who kicked the Windows 8 blog off with its first item, noted this:
“Today more than two out of three PCs are mobile (laptops, netbooks, notebooks, tablets, slates, convertibles, etc.). Nearly every PC is capable of wireless connectivity. Screen sizes range from under 10 inches to wall-sized screens and multiple HD screens. Storage has jumped from megabytes to terabytes and has moved up to the cloud. The appearance of touch-screen mobile phones with the rich capabilities they bring, have together changed the way we all view computing. Most of all, computing is much more focused on applications and on people than on the operating system itself or the data. These changes in the landscape motivate the most significant changes to Windows, from the chips to the experience.”
Windows Phone 7, which has many functions and features we will likely see in Windows 8 for tablets, has shown it can provide an experience with a GUI, touch-screen responsiveness, photography support, geo-location and more that have potential to rival Android. With today’s announcement by Google, that’s an experience that Samsung, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo and others may find a lot more interest in than they did just yesterday.