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Summary:

The blockbuster deal between Motorola and Google is forcing many of the smaller handset makers to rethink their reliance on Google’s Android operating system. INQ, the company that came up with a Skype phone and a Facebook phone, is now looking at supporting Windows Phone 7.

Facebook Phone Fireside Chat

The blockbuster deal between Motorola and Google  is going to be a game-changer, and it will force many of the smaller handset makers to rethink their reliance on Google’s Android operating system. Many mobile industry insiders have shared that sentiment with me privately, and now one of them is ready to go on the record.

“We see a number of major vendors very seriously considering Windows Mobile as a core platform and therefore we are following their lead and examining it as well to complement our work in Android to date,” said Frank Meehan, chief executive officer (CEO) of INQ, the Hutchison Whampoa company that came up with a Skype phone and a Facebook phone. Meehan is worried about the latest Android development. Hutchison owns and operates 3G networks across the world under the brand name, “3.” And when he says Windows Mobile, he does mean Windows Phone 7 operating system.

INQ started to work on an Android-based device in 2009 and since then has been selling Android-based smartphones. “From a group perspective at Hutchison Whampoa, we have worked hard at bringing Android to consumers across our operations,” he said. “However this year there has been a dramatic increase in the way companies are looking to maximize the potential revenues of IPR (intellectual property) holdings, and the trend for many companies is now to concentrate on litigation rather than innovation.”

Meehan, a long time veteran of the mobile business, believes that ecosystem players need to take a deep breath and learn from GSM where major companies involved with development of that standard got together and came up with a way to help grow the mobile ecosystem. Meehan has a point and I do believe that eventually the mobile OS players will have to adopt a similar approach or else we are going to be stuck in a patent related mess for a long time.

“The advantages with Windows Mobile is that the legal issues and resulting costs seem to be much less,” Meehan said. He thinks the quick growth of Android — almost 600,000 activations a day — has made it a big target. But if Windows Phone 7 grows as quickly, then who knows if that will be hit by similar legal troubles, Meehan argued.

Meehan took a swing at rival Motorola and added, “It is telling that the Motorola Board decided that they could get more value out of 15-20 year old patents rather than use their huge R&D to create new exciting technologies over the next 10 years which is what Motorola used to do very well.”

  1. You’re afraid you’ll have to compete with a goog-moto for android handset sales… so to avoid that you’re going to move to an OS that nobody wants to buy? That doesn’t seem wise.

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    1. Edward Ferron Monday, August 22, 2011

      @Davod C Dean – the large majority of smart phone users do not go to buy an Android phone, they get one because it is like toothpaste, they are just everywhere so they get the neatest looking one. That is not say that there is not an significant audience who like the Android and go to get what they call a “Google phone”. I talk to 100’s of people everyday and I would say oh, how do you like your Android device or Google phone and they would go, “What’s that?” I go on to explain the phone the purchased in running Android. They shrug they shoulders and say “oh, thanks for telling me”. Microsoft has a great phone but was so late to the game with so few choices I mean they have one handset each for Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, 3 on AT&T, and zero pay as you go phones as to Android who has so many devices I stopped counting at every level. If Microsoft can win more handset makers and just get some shelf space, it will help their cause. With no sales pressure hand a non tech/fanboy for either platform a Windows Phone and a Android phone and you will see there is a good size audience who like the Windows Phone.

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      1. This is a weak argument, that blames the lack of sales of WP7 on mobile carrier salesmen. If consumers don’t know what android is and just happen to be buying the phones, does that mean they know what windows phone is, and just aren’t buying it?

        The fact is WP7 is a great mobile operating system, but one that hit the market too late and with not enough difference that consumers care about it. Zune and xbox integration(both additional pay services) are not going to differentiate the platform to 500k activations a day. Just like webos, it’s one of the better mobile OS’s that people aren’t buying, and we know how that turned out.

        WP7 is a placeholder to keep MS “in the game” as they prepare win8/9 to be able to run on phones/tablets/pcs.

        Since wp7 came out, I have seen a few of wp7 handsets people carried. The only issue only 3 of those people were NOT microsoft employees. The others told me it was an ok phone but they had a bit of “app envy” because they could play games with their friends who had android/ios devices. (Most specifically “words with friends”) or could not find specific apps for services they used, but knew those services had apps for ios/android and even blackberry.

        Its not the sheer # of apps an app store has, but the 3rd party support and integration of services (google docs, voice, spotify, rdio, dropbox, etc.) That matter. Sure they may come to wp7 in time, but they are here now on ios/android.

        Wp7 is a work in progress, and to a consumer do the pros still out weigh the cons?

        Its great we have choices in mobile OS, and it looks like more people have confidence in phones running android/ios than wp7, even if they don’t know all the geeky OS bits.

        How does microsoft reverse that? If you can’t get people to buy them, then what? How do they make wp7 so compelling to the average consumer they care about the OS?

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      2. They actually say, “Oh, thanks for telling me”? Cuz, that would be as hilarious as it is unlikely.

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      3. Fourthletter58 Monday, August 22, 2011

        So says the person with Microsoft written across their user image.

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      4. WP7 is a shit, that’s why people don’t buy this. Android has more advantages than WP

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      5. “the large majority of smart phone users do not go to buy an Android phone”

        but that is changing fast, very fast….

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      6. I disagree that the public is so “ignorant” as to the platform of their phone. Do you really speak to 100’s of NEW people daily? Everyone I’ve ever met, with a smart phone, I ask “Is that an Android?” 100% of them respond with either, “Yes it’s a Droid ohone” or “No, it’s an iPhone.”
        Also, your grammar & spelling are atrocious. Not trying to disrespect you, but, if you’re going to post something publicly, read it first before you submit it.

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      7. i agree we need to see more wp7s on the shelf. i have had an android and a wp7. when i went to a popular provider store and asked to see the wp7, the salesman told me what i really wanted was an iphone. when i told him i didn’t want an iphone, he said then what i should buy is an android. when i wold him i was interested in looking at a wp7 before i made up my mind,, he said to me i didn’t really want one, that everyone was buying androids and iphones. shop sales attitudes have to be changed.

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      8. Four Moving Tiles Tuesday, August 23, 2011

        @Jef
        “(google docs, voice, spotify, rdio, dropbox, etc.) That matter. Sure they may come to wp7 in time, but they are here now on ios/android.”

        Rdio and DropBox already have apps for WP7 today. Spotify has already confirmed their app for WP7 and are waiting for the Mango release so that it can make use of multitasking. As far as Google Docs, Google isn’t going to support Windows Phone directly, just like you’re not going to find Microsoft Office/Sharepoint/Office 365 on Android phones. That being said 3rd party developers have already come up with “Google” apps that are often better than Google’s own Android apps. Gmail, Picasa, Gdocs, GMaps, and Youtube are all well supported on Windows Phone with 3rd party apps. The Youtube apps in particular are superior to Google’s own app, allowing downloading of videos (SuperTube)and even remote control of Youtube on your PC (EasyTube).

        The biggest thing hurting Windows Phone today is ignorance. People don’t know what it is, they are underestimating and undervaluing it’s importance. They are assuming apps are not there, when the truth is that the 30,000+ apps in marketplace already cover most people’s needs. Microsoft already went hunting for the big fish in the app game.

        The bigger deal is that the equivalent apps on WP7 and Android are much better on WP7. You don’t get to realize this until you use both extensively, but how many people take that time?

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      9. @Jef et al.
        Try and take a step back and be objective for a minute: quite a few Android users really don’t understand just what “Android” is. They either buy the phone because the sales person said to, or they heard that “android is great” so they went and asked for one, without really knowing what it was. My sister-in-law is a prime example of the first one.
        She wanted a “phone that has an agenda and isn’t as expensive as an iPhone,” so the guy sold her a Samsung something. She doesn’t know how to use it, or how to find things on Android Market.
        When her contract is up, she’ll probably get an iPhone.
        Android really is riding on the coattails of media hype, and is being helped along by a strong geek movement. But like the Tea Party, the Android geeks are smaller than you’d think, and they’ll whither out and disappear.

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    2. Antoine Prince Monday, August 22, 2011

      no one wants to buy? more like less exposure since the droid OS is on every shitty hardware phone. It’s the standard nokia symbian that flooded the market when big screens were not around yet. I’ve had an android. one thing I noticed was “Virus scanners” in the marketplace. That is kind of embarrassing if a cellphone needs a virus scanner.

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      1. iPhones are also susceptible to malware. And if you’re going to defend an MS product while simultaneously complaining about another OS being susceptible to viruses, you are truly an ignorant idiot. Android is Linux based. Linux is orders of magnitude more secure than MS Windows. Why should I think Windows Phone would be any better than Windows 7?

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    3. It still seems more rational than HPs approach!
      Run away scared completely out of the business…

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  2. Google’s going to sell or bury Motorola’s hardware business. They’ll announce it within 10 days. Nothing else makes sense.

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    1. Paying 12.5 Billion for patents alone doesn’t make sense either. And then let Sammy/HTC/who-have-you walk into a golden sunset with one less competitor in tow…yeah Google has a lot of money, but do they want to use it only to help the (other) handset makers?

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    2. You are assuming that Motorola’s IP is valuable enough on it’s own to warrant $12.5 billion, I’m not willing to accept that assumption as Moto’s IP hasn’t stopped anyone from suing them to this point.

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      1. put nokia and ms together on patents and you know how lopsided it can become..

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    3. Considering Google’s purchase of Motorola will take months to be completed, your “They’ll announce it within 10 days.” is about as wrong as wrong can be — they can’t sell something they don’t yet own.

      Also, who is going to buy a money losing phone business with zero patents? And for the “bury” option Motorola has 20,000 employees – that’s going to be one heck of an expensive burial — both in terms of severance costs, and reputation cost to Google “do no evil” slogan. Many will think that for a rich, profitable corporation firing 20,000 people is evil personified.

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      1. Ted – while the purchase is completed (months – you’re right), handset makers will be deciding how much they can trust Google. So Google should move quickly to assure them that they will not compete directly.

        Agreed with you about the cost of firing 20k people – selling the handset unit would be better.

        As for how wrong I am, I plead to being less wrong than HP’s board when the approved the purchase of Palm, and perhaps less wrong than Cisco when they shot Flip without trying to sell it first.

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  3. When companies are reduced to or spoken of in only the value of their patent portfolio, that’s pretty sad. The only way to realize that value in the market is to go around suing others to make that money back for yor shareholders.

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  4. Smaller players would be better to go with MeeGo, like LG is doing.

    Everyone seems to forget the elephant in the room: That after a year on the market, Windows Phone has failed. Even Samsung’s Bada OS is outselling Windows Phone. The public simply don’t want Microsoft on their phones.

    The sales of Bada OS, while not in the league of iOS and Android, still demonstrate it is easy to do better in mobile than Microsoft’s Windows Phone. If a major number of players got behind MeeGo, it could really do much better.

    Anyone taking on iOS and Android is already late to the game. The only, only way to do it is to be very open. Any closed and walled-garden OS (like Windows Phone) will fail. Going open will attract a natural ecosystem of developers.

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    1. SkepticalOptimist Monday, August 22, 2011

      I guess phone makers will have to weigh the risk of getting sued by Microsoft/Apple/Google/RIM. Will Intel step forward to protect them in Meego infringement lawsuits?

      It’s a tough choice. Either go with a closed platform that belongs to a major company or go with ‘open’ platform that comes with litigation risk.

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  5. IF taken at his words: “The advantages with Windows Mobile is that the legal issues and resulting costs seem to be much less,”

    His reasons for looking at Windows are legal cost issues, which should be negated by the Googlerola deal, not intensified.

    So the Moto deal isn’t the cause of this — it may even be the opposite. More: http://9to5google.com/2011/08/21/is-inq-really-thinking-about-leaving-android-for-windows-mobile/

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  6. IF taken at his words: “The advantages with Windows Mobile is that the legal issues and resulting costs seem to be much less,”

    His reasons for looking at Windows are legal cost issues, which should be negated by the Googlerola deal, not intensified.

    So the Moto deal isn’t the cause of this — it may even be the opposite. More: http://9to5google.com/2011/08/21/is-inq-really-thinking-about-leaving-android-for-windows-mobile/

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  7. Microsoft is a greedy corporation. I wont buy windows phone. Google products are always free for us consumers.

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    1. Antoine Prince Monday, August 22, 2011

      at the end of the day, both companies are greedy corps. And you just happen to be typing away on a windows PC. Someone misinformed like you should be using Linux or something.

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    2. i paid good money for my android, thank you. it wasn’t free. the system may be free to the device makers, but not to you and me.

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  8. These guys are afraid of Google+Motorola, so they’re running to Microsoft+Nokia.

    WINNING!!!!111one

    NOT

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    1. Fanboy comments are useless in adult conversations

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  9. Inq just turned to android from brew, now they think of moving again?

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  10. Isn’t the acquisition of Motorola supposed to actually help with the patent issue? And they are running from Android, which at least Google said they’d keep as fair as possible, even after the acquisition, to Microsoft which have already said they will give “special” benefits to Nokia, compared to the other manufacturers? How does that logic work? Not to mention that Android actually sells handsets for manufacturers.

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    1. Brian Washington Monday, August 22, 2011

      The real reason Google bought MOTO was to keep Microsoft from aquiring the patents and to keep MOTO from using their patents against other Android OEMs. Google basically bought MOTO to keep the patents from being used against them. While they may help strenghten Google’s patent portfolio the purpose for the high price was to keep Android from becoming a cannible.

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