Google’s $12.5 billion (£7.7 billion) acquisition of mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility raises significant concerns around the Android operating system, according to industry experts.
Ovum analyst Nick Dillon said that by becoming a hardware vendor, Google will “move from the position of partner to that of competitor to Android handset manufacturers”.
While the move made sense for Google in terms of patents, Dillon said he had “concerns” about it potentially placing “significant strain on the Android ecosystem”.
“If, for example, Google provides preferential access to the Android code to its own hardware division, this would place other vendors at a disadvantage and may lead them to question their commitment to the platform, potentially pushing some towards other platforms,” he said.
“Given Google’s recent moves to exert greater control of the implementation of the Android platform, such as restricting access to the Android source code to select hardware partners, such a move is not beyond the realm of the imagination.”
If this happens, the beneficiary would be Microsoft and the Windows Phone platform, he said, because many larger Android manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, HTC and ZTE are also Windows Phone licencees.
As the move was announced, Android partners Samsung, Sony Ericsson, HTC and LG issued almost identical statements to each other. They all insisted in essence that they “welcome” the news of Google’s “commitment to defending Android”.
Charles Golvin, principal analyst at Forrester, said that “product strategists” at the firms “are certain to revisit their Windows Phone hedge strategy”.