In case you hadn’t heard, Google liked Motorola Mobility so much it put a ring on it. That is, they bought the entire company, at a cost of about $12 billion.
This caught pretty much everybody by surprise, although in retrospect, the writing was on the wall as early as January, when Motorola spun off its cellphone business because they were sick of losing money. It was kind of the equivalent of casting an elder off into the woods to die: Motorola’s one ray of hope was the Droid, but unlike the iPhone, there was massive amounts of competition with dozens of Android handsets.
Google, meanwhile, had been fiddling with hardware for a while but had learned the hard way with the Nexus that you can’t just knock off the iPhone and call it a day. They’d also been learning the hard way that making something somewhat open source means, to large corporations, “please, figure out a way to break me!” The result: Android had 48% of the smartphone market, but got thumped in the nuts in terms of customer satisfaction by Microsoft, of all people.
So, what does this mean to you, the customer? In six words: Bend over and spread them wide. This is bad, bad news, in just about every respect. Why?
Android’s Days Are Numbered
Android caught on for one reason, and one reason only: It was fairly well designed, it was customizable, even if those customizations meant “breaking the damn OS” or “leaving out Marketplace,” and it was cheap. And that was something other handset makers desperately, desperately needed.
Apple is widely praised for being great at designing products and marketing itself, but to the rest of the handset world, it’s Genghis Khan, burning their crops and hearing the lamentations of their women. Motorola itself is a great example, since after its enormously successful Razr, it started sinking in 2007. Nokia’s boss has admitted that if their Windows phones aren’t hits, the company is dead. BlackBerry is currently struggling to remain relevant to anybody other than their business enterprise customers.
Which brings us to Samsung and HTC — who went all in on Android and Windows Phone 7 to compete with Apple. Samsung is currently facing a patent war with Apple, and HTC isn’t far behind.
So…let’s say you’re Google. You just dropped $12 billion on a company. You want to turn your market share into something enormously profitable. Do you keep your valuable OS “open source?” Or do you throw your now-competitors, who are currently getting eaten alive by your main enemy, to the wolves? Especially since, even though it’s greatly improved, to most of the world “Windows operating system” is still a punchline?
Kiss Your Privacy Goodbye
Recently, Facebook got into yet another privacy stink because essentially any Facebook app you put on a smartphone uploads your entire contacts list to Facebook’s servers — where they keep it forever and ever.
Here’s the thing: Google, as we’ve detailed, has the same motivations and is a whole lot better at collecting information about you. We don’t mean to imply Google is somehow assembling a psychological profile of everybody who uses their services, just that they could, pretty easily, and the ease of tying your Android smartphone or tablet to your Google accounts means you’re pretty much giving them access to everything about you. Hope you cleaned up your porn history before signing on.
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