A First Step in Google's New Android Strategy?
Just as a reminder, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus is one of the few Android smartphones shipping with Android 4.0 -- and it was the only one until about a month ago.
So why now? Last August, Google announced its intent to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings(MMI) .
As I wrote last August, this acquisition means Google will attempt to become a more vertical company by incorporating a direct sales model, perhaps all the way to the point of opening stores similar to the Apple and Microsoft ones.
What we saw from Google this week may be an indication that it may have some big plans in this regard after it closes this acquisition, something rumored to happen within the next 30 days.
What is Google's dilemma here? The eternal dilemma of an operating system provider is that it is extremely difficult to try to be "open" and to have one's own hardware. Apple had a big debacle trying to thread this needle in the early 1990s, and Palm had the same problem in the late 1990s. These initiatives are widely believed to have been monumental disasters.
There is one difference between the Apple/Palm stories from 15-20 years ago, and Google's situation today: Apple/Palm started out as integrated stories and then opened up the OS to other hardware guys. Google today would be doing the opposite by going from a pure OS player to making its own hardware.
Google has stated emphatically that it can both walk and chew gum at the same time. It says it will keep a Chinese wall between the Android team and the acquired Motorola business.
Everyone in the industry is very skeptical. The largest Android licensee -- Samsung -- must consider charting its own course, perhaps by acquiring Research In Motion(RIMM) . It is making everyone uneasy, except of course Microsoft and Apple, who would both thrive if Android stumbles. RIM would also benefit as the last remaining alternative.
Chances are that if the Motorola acquisition closes on time, Google will unveil its new strategy at its annual I/O conference in San Francisco on June 27-29.