Today at a mobile industry conference, Google’s Andy Rubin explained that Google isn’t going to favour Motorola over any other Android reseller.As The Verge reports, he told reporters that Android and Motorola are so completely separate, he “doesn’t even know who’s running” Motorola once the acquisition is complete.
(Andy, meet Dennis Woodside. Dennis, meet Andy. You guys know each other?)
But leaving aside that meaningless claim — Rubin’s boss Larry Page knows exactly what’s going on in both divisions and is free to make any strategic decision he likes — the part that really stuck out was when Rubin said it would be “physically difficult for me to advantage somebody” because of Android’s open source nature.
What a load.
Google itself admits that:
- Google picks a favoured hardware partner to work closely with for each Android release. This is the “lead device” concept that came out in a leaked document last year. These favoured partners put out the first Android phone for each release. For Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, it was Samsung — who put out the Galaxy Nexus S. For Android 3.0, Honeycomb, which was made for tablets, it was Motorola — the Motorola Xoom.
- Google controls the schedule for source code releases. Android is open source, but it’s not community driven. From Rubin himself: “We take submissions from the community, but it’s a much more controlled way in how it comes out.”
All Google would have to do is pick Motorola to be its favoured partner on each future Android update. Early access to source code, plus guidance about where Android is headed and how to develop apps for it, would absolutely give Motorola a huge advantage over all its competitors.
Elsewhere in the conversation, Rubin said that he wouldn’t do this anyway because Motorola has such small market share. “Even if I was completely insane, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to think that we could get Motorola to be 90 plus per cent marketshare.”
Apparently, Rubin doesn’t share Larry Page’s mandate to think big.
(Also: what about 50% share? Or 30% share?)
The truth will come out over the next year or two. Maybe Google really will continue to treat all its Android partners equally — but then why did it drop $12.5 billion on a hardware company that’s going to drag down its margins? Was it really just for the patents?