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The blockbuster deal between Motorola (s mmi) and Google (s goog) 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 (s msft) 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.”