This morning’s gamechanger announcement by Google ($GOOG) to acquire Motorola Mobility, previously spun off from Motorola, solidifies not only Google’s position to force a head-on competition with Apple ($AAPL) but also provides a new, promising life for Motorola’s innovative business that once ruled the world with tiny STAR Tac phones.
Motorola had struggled to find its way since my first meetings at the Chicagoland campus over five years ago. At that time the path forward around its smart phone strategy was floundering, RIM was eating everyone’s lunch with the Blackberry version du jour. Motorola sold its automotive business in what could arguably be described as the worst cultural carve-off of the year (“Motorolans are not automotive people,” one grad student and Motorola Automotive account executive lamented before she and many others left what became a new business unit at Continental Automotive). The revolving door of vice presidents and directors churned through leadership like a sausage maker before the holidays. Within the year it was impossible to understand who was responsible for what and the talent pool was draining fast in the supply chain management and product development areas. It was time for a strategic breakthrough – Motorola needed a technology partner, stat.
At around that point Google came calling and the birth of the Android operating system for both mobile phones and tablets hit a genesis. As Wall Street Journal Digital contributor and fellow Twitter-er Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) describes in her article this morning:
But the dramatic acquisition by Google is also a declaration that mobile is more important to it than the skein of alliances it has built for Android with phone makers worldwide, as part of its objective of making it the dominant mobile platform.
In the call this morning announcing the deal, CEO Larry Page referenced the deal around the 2007 timeline and how the companies have grown steadily closer, according to Wall Street Journal contributor Peter Kafka (@pkafka):
In May 2005, I met Andy Rubin, who had a “crazy” vision for open-source platform for mobile. Now Android “one of the leading platforms in the industry.” “Andy, or should I say Android, has grown tremendously” since 2007 launch.
So much has changed since those churning years leading into 2007. So much promise moving forward for a competitive and open mobile society.
But I won’t trade in my new iPhone4 and iPad2, at least not yet.