Will a Google-Motorola Merger be a Disaster?
Integrating the software engineering culture of Google with the hardware manufacturing business of Motorola Mobility will certainly face some challenges, but will it go down in history as one of the biggest merger disasters of all time? Henry Blodget seems to think so when he says, "But if Larry plans to keep Motorola and operate it as a stand-alone business, as Google said on the conference call yesterday, look out. This deal could easily end up in the same Hall of Shame that enshrines AOL Time Warner and many more of the worst mergers in history."
Patents may be the only part of this deal Google cares about. If it's about patents, there's really nothing interesting to talk about and a disaster is highly unlikely.
From an Android OS perspective, Google owning Motorola won't change much. While Google may insist on a more specific Android experience on Motorola hardware, it still needs HTC and Samsung to make sexy devices or the market for Android phones won't grow. Maybe Google will subsidize Xoom sales to grow the Android tablet market. The biggest problem facing every Android tablet I've tried so far is that it feels unfinished, which is partly due to the fragmentation. Having Google dictate a software release schedule for a set of tablets would push the other tablet makers to keep pace with adding Android features. I'm guessing here, but none of that sounds like a disaster.
The Motorola set-top box business looks like a bigger opportunity than phones. Google hired away some of the people who built Microsoft's Mediaroom IPTV product back while I was consulting for Microsoft IPTV. If Google can provide a mature enough TV experience with in-house set-top boxes, they may be able to steal some business from Microsoft, assuming Google has patience for the lengthy sales cycle. The cable companies all buy either Motorola or Tatung set-top boxes, so Google has a great in to offer their own complementary software. Or maybe we need to imagine an Adwords business that offers more direct television ad buying where Google cuts the cable providers in for a slice of the action. Again, nothing that sounds like disaster.
Blodget may be right that the Motorola culture won't mix with Google. But if Google isn't trying to mix culture, there is opportunity for Google software business units to work directly with Motorola hardware business units. What do you think? Will buying Motorola break Google?