One of Google’s reasons for acquiring Motorola Mobility was mainly to take advantage of its 17,000 patents to protect Android from patent infringement litigation. As a bonus, Google also gets to play as a competitor in the hardware market. But that doesn’t mean Motorola gets an unfair advantage over other Android phone manufacturers in the Android smartphone and tablet marketplace. For instance, Google still wants Motorola to play fair in terms of competing to produce “pure Android” Nexus phones. But with the dominance of Samsung — and likewise Apple — Motorola will need to refocus its mobile business in order to remain relevant.
As such, Motorola is making a big push for more focused products and processes. In this light, the company is closing down a third of its 94 offices around the world. Motorola will also be laying off about 20% of its workers worldwide. One third of the 4,000 jobs to be downsized will be in the U.S., reports the New York Times. This comes after Google slashed down Motorola’s management team, firing 40% of its vice presidents and replacing them with a few key executives.
The aim is to stop making low-end mobile phones, and instead focus on a fewer models, likely to be flagship devices meant to compete with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and even the Apple iPhone 4S.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside told the Times that Google stands to benefit from Motorola’s mobile expertise, and that Motorola benefits from Google’s software development. “The Google business is built on a wired model, and as the world moves to a pretty much completely wireless model over time, it’s really going to be important for Google to understand everything about the mobile consumer,” he said.
Motorola is still largely a hardware company, which means it gets to experiment with different materials and manufacturing processes. The company is currently cutting back on spending on too many cellphone components, says an executive Google recruited to fix Motorola’s supply chain. Another executive, recruited by Google from DARPA, is currently working on new materials, and has been hiring metal scientists, acoustics engineers and AI experts — something that one might relate more to Apple than any other mobile company.
What’s even more interesting is the idea that Google may be developing a smartphone or tablet built from ground-up using an altogether new OS. Much like how Apple marries hardware with software, “people familiar with the companies” say that Google could “build a phone from silicon to software” and might actually create a separate OS that runs exclusively on Motorola hardware.
For now, both Motorola and Google will be working in trying to find synergy between each company’s expertise. It might not be too good to dwell on Motorola’s glory days as the preferred mobile brand of old. Rather, slimming down and focusing on what’s important will be helpful for Motorola in moving forward.