If you want to invest in Google Android, your closest proxy right now might be the new Motorola Mobility, the mobile phone unit of Motorola, which just split off from the less-sexy, public service-focused half of Motorola, and is now trading on the NYSE as MMI.
Motorola, which was long ago a Microsoft Windows Mobile shop, has basically been betting its future on Google’s Android platform for the last two years.
Going forward, investors will judge Motorola Mobility almost entirely on its success with Android, via its Droid lineup at Verizon Wireless, other Android-based phones at other carriers, and forthcoming Android tablets… And on Android’s performance relative to the other smartphone platforms, such as Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry, Nokia, Windows Phone 7, etc.
This means Motorola could take a hit if Verizon starts pushing Apple’s iPhone this year, at the expense of Android. But it could get a boost if other carriers — especially overseas — start pushing Android hard, with Motorola’s help.
To be sure, Motorola Mobility isn’t a direct proxy to Android — Motorola still has to execute on product design, sales, marketing, and distribution, relative to Samsung, HTC, and other Android device makers. But if Android continues to do well, and if Motorola executes, it should be a positive for Motorola Mobility.
(And there’s always the possibility that Motorola will hedge its bets by making phones and tablets that use other software platforms in the future, such as Windows Phone 7.)
Investors are happy so far: In its debut, MMI shares are up 9% to $32.90.
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