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Google's sale of Motorola may signal a stronger bond between Google and Samsung — and a threat to Windows Phone

In a surprise move today, Google announced the sale of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo for $2.91 billion dollars. On the face of it, that looks like financial loss from the original $12.5 billion purchase price by Google in 2012. However, keep in mind that price for just the hardware division, as Google will retain "the vast majority" of the Motorola patent portfolio (licensing them to Lenovo).

In many ways, it’s a brilliant move. Google is better served by the patent protection, but they probably couldn’t just buy them from Motorola in 2012. Instead, they had to purchase the whole package (hardware plus patents) and get into the awkward device manufacturing game. With today’s deal, they successfully spun off the hardware but retain those patents, which is really what they wanted in the first place.

There’s another reason why this may have happened: Samsung. Grab your conspiracy hats and read on why the sale of Motorola Mobility may be a big threat to Microsoft and Apple going forward.

Google and Samsung woes

Android has surpassed Apple for smartphone market share—that is well known. Samsung sells the huge majority of those devices through their Galaxy line, upwards of 83%. That’s a similar situation to Nokia, who have 90% of the Windows Phone market. Believe it or not this is both good and bad. It’s good, because Samsung knows how to sell phones and innovate—they’re a strong collaborator. It’s bad because having one manufacturer dominate Android hardware gives them too much control.

Microsoft knew this, which is why they basically had to buy Nokia.

It’s no secret that Google and Samsung are co-dependent. Perhaps less known by consumers is how much of a threat Google views Samsung. Maybe it’s just me, but I find it very weird that Samsung held their own Android developer conference and that they have upwards of 1200 of their own APIs for Android. It’d be like Nokia pushing Microsoft out of the way saying “we got this” when it comes to core OS development. Helping is one thing. Redirecting development is another.

Ars Technica had an excellent article on this, detailing how Google is putting more and more of their core apps into Google Play (as opposed to leaving them open source). As a result, when an OEM makes an Android phone with Google, they have to pick up all of Google’s apps, which they are upwards of 70 of these days. Think Voice, Music, Maps, Calendar, even Messaging, the Camera and keyboard are all under Google’s control. In other words, Google is making Android more and more closed source. They’re doing that so any competitor would have to re-create a large chunk of the OS themselves, making it too costly to do, ergo threat avoided.

As a result, Android devices are becoming very Google-branded these days. Many in the industry believe this is to protect Google from Samsung, who are basically making Android their OS. Combine that with Samsung’s continued insistence on developing Tizen (their own proprietary operating system), and Google has a partner who dominates their Android, but may not stick around for the long term.

The last straw

At CES, Samsung made even more waves with their new Magazine UX. The new design looks a lot like Microsoft’s Live Tile system with flatter graphics and some 'inspiration' from Flipboard. According to a fascinating article on Re/code, Google execs were “dismayed by what they saw”. The reason? Samsung went too far in diverging from Google’s idea of what Android should look like. Citing un-named sources, Re/code states:

“Multiple sources familiar with the companies’ thinking say the two technology giants began hammering out a series of broad agreements at CES that would bring Samsung’s view of Android in line with Google’s own. The results of the talks, which have only just begun dribbling out to the public, also underscore the extent to which Google is exerting more of its influence to control its destiny in the Android open source world.”

That’s pretty fascinating, as it signals a much closer alliance between Google and Samsung, notably that Samsung would back-off of the Magazine UX and even tone down their media offerings, instead bolstering Google’s Play Store and vast media library.

But one thing caught my attention and during today’s podcast, I put the two together (head to the 1h 23 min mark). Re/code said this about the new friendship between Google and Samsung:

“It’s unclear what concessions Google may have made on its part. The company could have, for example, agreed to work with Samsung on a Nexus device or offered other cooperation.

The relationship between Google and Samsung has gone through “a huge change, a sea change in the last few weeks,” as one source described it.”

On the very same day that report comes out, Google announces the sale of Motorola Mobility. It seems oddly coincidental. It’s well known that Samsung didn’t appreciate Google buying their own hardware division and on the surface, it looks like Samsung said to Google: ‘You want to play nice, sell off Motorola Mobility’. (One also wonders if Samsung will back off of Tizen).

With Motorola Mobility off of the table, Google retaining the patents and a closer relationship with Samsung in tow, the Mountain View juggernaut may have formed an unstoppable force. Samsung is on a leash, Google has patent protection and Microsoft and Apple have a serious threat on their hands.

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Reader comments

Google's sale of Motorola may signal a stronger bond between Google and Samsung — and a threat to Windows Phone

320 Comments

Since Lenovo is buddies with MS and the Moto G was a threat to the 525 and Samsung wants to move go Tizen, I figure this would be a huge bonus for WP.

Until there is evidence that Lenovo will make a WP device, I don't see how. Even so, not sure Lenovo will be the brand to 'save' Windows Phone from Android.

Samsung could make a Moto G if they want. They're the bigger threat here, even if Lenovo comes on board with WP.

Well, I would figure that MS would "pressure" Lenovo to make one like they do with Samsung. Maybe not, and really its all speculation, but that's what I would figure they would do. Lenovo is taking over the PC market, so they clearly can produce nice hardware.

Lenovo already makes Android phones. Lenovo already makes WIndows PCs. If Microsoft wanted to put "pressure" on Lenovo, which they wouldn't they would have done so already. My guess is Lenovo gets the same deal as other PC manufacturers: a discount on licenses if you do both.

Maybe with this beefed up hardware division, Lenovo will be more willing to make Windows Phones, but Lenovo's Android offerings have hardly set the world afire. Not sure why it'd be different with Windows Phone.

Right, and Samsung makes Android phones and Windows PCs too, but MS still pressures them to make WP (you said that in an earlier podcast). Lenovo doesn't sell phones that well outside of China so they're not exactly setting the mobile world on fire and considering MS doesn't sell well in China anyways, I doubt MS has been losing sleep about Lenovo not making WP hardware.
I'm not saying its going to happen, but I see it as being way more likely than it was before.

The main reason anyone would try to pressure Samsung to make devices with any particular OS, is because of the brand recognition. As Daniel mentioned, Lenovo's phones have hardly "set the world on fire", and certainly haven't taken any region by storm. Whereas Samsung has continually brought one innovation after another. They are the "face" of Android in many ways. Getting them to make phones, especially if they were on par with (and released about, if not at the same time as) the Android flagships, increases the odds that users would be willing to "make the switch". I know several people that would switch to WP if Samsung released the Note 3 or GS4 or close variants for WP at the same time. However, I have never once heard anyone in person talk about Lenovo smartphones. In fact, the times I’ve mentioned Lenovo’s phones, I’ve had to prove to people that they actually make any.

Now, with Motorola under their belt, it "may" be another story. However, I think that it's more likely that if anyone chooses to try and "pressure" or "coerce" Lenovo to make a Motorola smartphone for a non-Android platform, they will probably wait to see what Lenovo's first release is like, and how well received it is. 
 

Ah but there's the thing: Lenovo doesn't sell mobiles well outside of China....but Motorola does. And unlike Microsoft, Lenovo bought Motorola WITH the brand. Which means they won't need to call them "Lenovo something". They can, but it would be darn stupid. They can do exactly what Google was doing "Motorola, a Google company" but "Motorola, a Lenovo company".

 

The reason Microsoft pressures Samsung to make WP, as it was said, is the brand. Exactly the same reason why they sent Eflop to Nokia. To get the brand. Since Samsung is currently the most powerful brand in mobile (along with the iPhone but Apple lives in another planet) Microsoft needs to pressure that brand to adopt their OS too. That pressure is pivotal now more than ever because not only Samsung is in better terms with Google, but Nokia's branded phones - which is what sells WP nowadays, like it or not - will go away.

But isn't Lenovo, according to latest IDC reports, one of the top 5 smartphone makers for 2013? Clearly their Android phones have set at least Asia in fire?

His point is that although Lenovo phones did well in Asia, Android is still largley dominated by Samsung, just like WP is largely dominated by Nokia.

Shiseido is the fourth-largest cosmetics company in the world.  They basically OWN Asia. But have you ever heard of their brand Majollica Majorca?  Probably not. I'll bet you've heard of  Clinique, MAC, Aveda...those are Estée Lauder subsidiaries. I'm sure you've heard of Lancôme and Maybelliene,  those are subsidiaries of L'Oréal.

 

Being big in Asia can sometimes only guarantee that you are big in Asia. The largest market is still the US, though, and Samsung owns it. 

I doubt Lenovo, a Chinese company, wants to manufacture phones in the US like Motorola does in order to get around ITC injunctions. That means Lenovo will need to license patents from Microsoft to sell Android phones in the US under the Motorola brand name. This is where MS can offer a discount on the patent licensing fee and co-marketing incentives in exchange for Windows Phone support from Lenovo. Remember that Motorola is losing hundreds of millions each quarter, so Lenovo has no interest in continuing operations as they are, they simply wanted the consumer brand name and established US carrier relations.

Motorola patents have failed to protect them against Apple or Microsoft lawsuits. I'm not sure how any of this makes Lenovo or Samsung more of a threat to Windows Phone than they already were.

If Lenovo were to sell Windows Phones in the US it would probably be under the Motorola brand name since so much has been invested in that name by the major carriers. Hard to say how these phones would actually sell, but the Motorola brand name carries more weight in the US than the Nokia brand name (as screwed up as that may seem to the rest of the world).

FWIW, Lenovo does have some very interesting products coming out lately, like their new premium 8 inch tablet, among a few other things. They never seem to quite hit the mark, but if they decide to move to WP, I could see them making some attractive handsets at some point. Unfortunately, Nokia is so far entrenched in the market, it would have to be something increduously innovative.

I wonder if Lenovo will now do all the enterprise windows phone that Motorola use to do, (windows CE now will be windows phone 8 devices) for all the retail and warehouse companies.

As the other reply to your comment states, that was and is Motorola Solutions. Motorola split itself in two in 2011: the consumer phones business became Motorola Mobility, and the enterprise side - retail and warehouse phones/PDAs, wireless networking, barcode scanning and 2-way radios - became Motorola Solutions. Google only bought Motorola Mobility, and that's all they're selling to Lenovo.

 

Microsoft appear to have missed the boat with Windows Embedded Handheld 8. An SDK for it - which is just barcode scanning and credit card magnetic stripe-reading APIs on top of the Windows Phone 8 SDK - was only released in December 2013. At the National Retail Federation show in January 2013, Microsoft issued a press release announcing collaboration with Motorola Solutions, Intermec, Honeywell, Ingenico and Bluebird. This year, there were no announcements from Motorola Solutions, Honeywell (who have now bought Intermec) or Ingenico. Motorola showcased the Android-based TC55 instead.

 

Panasonic announced that they intend to 'work closely' with Microsoft on WEH8, and Bluebird recently announced two actual devices, but really these are tiny players in the market. In fact I don't think Panasonic currently have any devices in this market.

I've never seen any mobile POS solutions but iOS, frankly. I'm sure no one else has, either. Belly uses iPads, Macy's and Bloomingdale's use iPods.  I'm not sure there's even a market for Android or Windows Phone mobile POS.  With both of those you have to buy custom devices from the start. You just have to plug iOS devices into a sled or attach an accessory, and Apple has long since owned the accessories market. Does Windows Phone or Android even have APIs for accessories like iOS does?

Excellent article Dan! It truly helps to better understand the market in which Google, Samsung, MS, etc operate.

Daniel, as always, you bring up good points. I believe windows phone can save itself from Android by bringing features people want yet maintain the principles of the OS. Microsoft needs to set a design standard by producing the surface line of phones that are feature rich. Let face it, non of these manufactures of WP outside of Nokia are putting much effort into to their offerings. Microsoft needs to bring Sony onboard, allowing the PS4 hub, it might bring more titles to xbox/xbox one and vise versa. The WP tribe will grow

Sony and Microsoft have never really had great relations. Sony has always been MUCH closer with Apple (LOTS of their hardware was in classic Macs). Palm Computing was founded by ex-Apple employees, which is why Sony made Clié devices instead of Windows CE.  The XBox situation didn't just strain relations with Sony, it created an enemy.  Android was a way for Sony to almost basically cut ties with Microsoft.

 

Really, people believe Sony would create a device with XBOX branding all over it???  Sony can sometimes be schizophrenic as a company, but I don't think they're out and out insane.

Samsung can't make a Moto G, they make money from hardware.

Samsung is trying to diversify from hardware to software and services, there is a big risk that hardware could become a zero o negative margin industry, there are at least 2 more players in conditions to subsidize the hardware: Amazon and Microsoft.

Google dropping Motorola is not enough for Samsung to abandon their investments in software and services. To make this change possible Google would have to share a part of their services revenue with Samsung, so Samsung would enter in services through Google.

Dropping Motorola is only good enough to keep Android more pure, maybe x% of phones in the play edition program.

It would be great if everyone else would just leave android to Samsung and move forward with WP or even something else.

 

 

Google makes no money on Android. There is no licensing fee (at least not right now).  They make all their money on Google Play.  Google Play has to be installed for them to get anything out of Android. For Google, the scariest proposition is a world without Play services, and with Amazon having their own (supposedly) successful App Store able to EASILY be installed on any Android device, Samsung releasing an App Store and no Google Play would be the last nail in the coffin. 

 

As far as Android is concerned, Samsung IS Android. I doubt seriously that any Galaxy users would know or care that their new device is running Tizen instead of Android.  Does the average user care that there's no Google Play store, obviously not, according to Amazon. As long as there is an App Store, that's all that matters.  Google is not the new Microsoft, Google is the new IBM. It won't be long before what they created (an open ecosystem like the PC) is well out of their control.

 

You have to remember that we are in the Post-PC era in similar vein of when there was Commodore, Sinclair, TRS/80, Apple II, Atari 800 stage.  We have not yet begun the Mac/PC era.  If you want to know what is going to be the biggest threat to Microsoft (who I think is the new, old Apple), it is Jolla.  Jolla is developing their OS with hardware and carrier partners first.  They are designing Sailfish so that it is most easy for hardware partners. Google did not and does not do that with Android.

As for patent protection: what Google got from Motorola is laughable. Basically nothing. They just wanted to HAVE patents in mobile, because Android is being crushed under the weight all of these Android hardware manufacturers have to pay to Microsoft and Apple.  You can do a search and find quotes from Microsoft executives that they make more money on every Android sold than Windows Phone due to the way licensing works. 

Afaik Tizen is not doing well so if it will be possible to drop Tizen for closer partnetship with Google Samsung will do it right away.

Honestly, there is another problem - if Samsung will become the same thing Nokia was for MS (except it's doing extremely good in terms of profit), other non-chinese Adnroid OEM's will drop like flies.

yup clearly with these moves lately, most of the other android oems have been left picking up crumbs. I think you may see a shift of some of these oems coming on board with windows.

And why not?! It's been several years that they'd been doing the Android "crumble" and still getting crumbs for their efforts so might as well try the WP "crumble" and maybe they just might get a piece of bread rather than just crumbs.

Samsung becoming to Google what Nokia is for MS??? Oh dear. Are you sure you know well enough what Samsung is?? Unless, of couse, you mean practically the only manufacturer of android phones. Still not the same though.

"Tizen is not doing well"

 

you want to show me where a Tizen product has been released yet to verify this ridiculous claim?  This is like saying "Android is not doing well" before the G1 was released. Remember that for several years, well into Cupcake's lifetime, Android was a bit player, mostly just showing up on crappy eReaders and cheap net books that previously would have ran Windows CE

Do not confuse "buddies" with "vassals"; Lenovo is not Nokia, it is the first or second biggest OEM not a company strapped for cash. Nowadays low end devices seem to be the "new frontier" and just few days ago Motorola announced development of a $60 smartphone and Lenovo would be fool not to pursue it.

MS doesn't need to fear Samsung. They need to fear themselves. I ask myself all the time this, why the consumers have to beg MS for features found on other platforms?

To make matters worse , the MS prioritizes the best features of its popular apps for iOS and Android in the expansion already " ready " for those markets . Also have you noticed the scores and critiques of these competing apps to users in their stores? Ridiculous down . Why would MS do that? What good is trying to promote temporary exclusives to competitors when the true consumers ( windowsphoners / nokianos ) , which recognize and know the difficulty ( in the case of MS ) , to have an app like this . They are in "third" plan? Wrong Marketing . Sometimes I do not understand big billionaires / corporations injured . Are so omnipotent and omnipresent that deviate from the target audience . That does not seem to appreciate the UserVoices . Regrettable. Sorry for the outburst . Ah ! But this is all just because of a simple app ? Do not crowd . For old users who monitor the evolution of WP even from the Nokia partnership. As well as the new ones that were interested and bought the idea of ​​a new OS . It is unacceptable to see such warmth to competition . What say you , as the improvements to competitors : Skype , Office , Outlook , Bings and so on and later adaptation to Windows Phone users .

The point of releasing great apps on other platforms is to keep from "preaching to the converted".  Apple did this with the iPod when they made it compatible with Windows. That was never a necessity for Apple.  What that did was let Windows users know how nice Apple hardware is.  Microsoft has really been behind as a software company in making sure people use their software. Android now comes bundled with Quick Office. No one cares anymore if there is Office for Android (which ridiculously requires an Office 365 sub).  All Apple devices now come bundled with iWork.  Can I open, view and do simple edits to Office documents? Yes? Ok, who cares if MS Office is available.

 

Microsoft really needs to do more in communicating their vision to consumers, because most consumers are confused about it right now. 

Maybe...just maybe a competing company ;-) can take those open source apps that have Google branded versions (calendar, email, maps etc etc), update them, make them competitive to Google's offerings and create some waves. This way, hardware manufactures won't have to kiss Google's ring in order to bring a product to the consumer market.

All of those apps are usually replaced on OEM devices, anyway. They're the least-interesting part of a device. Microsoft did not buy ALL of Nokia, just the mobile division, Here maps and all their software is still retained by Nokia. Microsoft basically just bought their name recognition, their expertise on the low end, and the manufacturing.  In many languages, the word for cell phone is "nokia".

 

Say what you will about their Mobile division, but as a company, they have some impressive technology. It's an easy cop out to dismiss their success as merely theft of everything.

There's more than just that.  Keep in mind the scope of Samsung.  They don't just make smartphones.  They have sourced their own screens, memory, processors, and various other components.  I'd say Samsung operates on the same level as Microsoft, Sony, or even Mitsubishi. 

Yeah, Apple learned that lesson when Samsung refused to renew their contract for providing Apple with their displays. Now they have to get them all from LG. 

Say what you want about their gimmicky immaging tricks and stupid touchwiz...they do have beautiful screens and awesome processors...and are finally getting their imaging tech to catch up to Apple and Nokia. I still think LG is the most underrated smartphone maker, however. 

I'll have to agree with the awesome screens, my old Galaxy S had one of the best screens I've ever used. AMOLED it's just the best thing ever, and looks amazing on WP with those real blacks.

What's crazy is that I prefer the amoled of the 1020 inside... But when it comes to the lcd of the 920 outside, nothing compares. That is the easiest phone to read in direct sunlight!

Not in the Aussie sun you can't. I always have to shield my phone in direct sunlight otherwise I just simply cannot see a thing.

Actually my Nokia N9 was much, much better in that regard.

You should be using sunscreen! After applying it to my face and arms I just wipe the residual on my screen and voila! I should post this on Lifehacker.

Jil Sander (there's no "s") is owned by Prada Group, who LG has a terrific relationship with, having made 3 successful Prada phones. I'm not sure I understand why they made a Windows Phone, except that Jil Sander as a design house is known for being very modern and minimal.

The only thing Samsung impressed me is the dual screen on Gnote. I'm pissed the fact 1520 is labeled a phablet when its not. Its just a big-phone, wasted screen. That's why I hope to see someday w8.1 multitasking ported to WP. WP multitasking right now is a piece of ass!

Well over half of the sold (not shipped) Windows Phones have 512MB. Adding multi-tasking to Windows Phone right now would not work on any device with less than 1GB.  Microsoft would have people believe that all Windows Phones are Lumia 1020's and 1520's but the fact is that literally they're all Lumia 520's.  The majority of all Windows Phones are also still WVGA resolution, and that doesn't look to be changing soon. Windows Phone also uses some really low-rent GPUs, which is fine for mono tasking on such an optimised platform, but it's seriously doubtful any chips but that in the 1520 could handle two independent frame buffers.

Then wp has a problem where top end phones are no different than low end. Therefore Ms basically been cheating their customers. If the os is basically the same throughout the ecosystem, there is no point to high end phones.

I'd say chances are slimmer by the minute. At some point, I don't know if Samsung's WP devices didn't served more to irritate Google than to actually offer a good mobile solution to users.

Now we need a better company like nokia to manufacturer quality hardware. Samsung having good relationships with google wont make much Windows phones. Bringing micromax can make a change. I know the quality of hardware is not equal to nokia but still it will gove them a small increase in sales.

Maybe something we all are missing in this thing. Now that MS owns the phone division of Nokia, who's to say the innovation and quality of Nokia phones will remain high. Even if it does, MS will slow the process down so much that Nokia may not be the market leader in WP much longer.

Forget about Samsung! MS needs 2 important OEMs only, HTC and Sony. Make a financial deal or invest in HTC. As an Android vender, HTC is basically hanging on a thread. Sony coming on board is a big deal- camera, hardware, style. Allow Sony make PS hub.

HTC is struggling period. I don't think making a Windows Phone is going to hp unless Microsoft subsidises the manufacturing, which is not going to happen with them owning Nokia.  There's already so many different Lumias, I don't see why everyone thinks there even needs to be another vendor.  Apple is doing just fine being the only iOS vendor.

Again, you must be high if you think Sony is going to make a mobile device with XBox branding all over it. 

 

Okay, so ignore the fact they sold 80 million phones last quarter while 8 million Lumias were sold. Because it's easier than to admit Microsoft may have a serious problem if Samsung is on Google's leash.

Daniel I think you are confusing "innovation" with "marketing". You know very well that innovation has very little to do with their success in sales. Huge marketing budget and good (but hardly innovative technology) are the main reasons.

I see both sides but I'm hardly intruiged by much of Samsung's recent innovations. More is not always better and I'll take quality over quantity.

Well if Microsoft keeps releasing apps for competing platforms first the only thing they have to worry about is themselves.

I hear this is a super secret clandestine MS program known as the Ballmer Nuclear Option to Trojan Horse the completing platforms and when the timing is right...just right....take them down in one swell poop. Brilliant I tells 'ya...brilliant! 

Samsung is, after all, the only company with the opportunity to market and sell Android phones, so those advantages must explain their advantage.

Oh wait...

In fairness, what percentage of Samsung phones were cheapo devices that lack much of any innovation? At least the 520 has some. I don't think Microsoft cares because Samsung never cared about WP. Samsung has never given WP an honest fair shot. With all due respect, I think this is a bunch of hype and too much "what if" at this point to not have a rumor meter on it. The deal was announced within 24 hours. For all we know, Samsung gives Google the finger and develops Tizen for the low-end, high volume sector. Sooner or later, contracts are going to disappear in the US and that will kill a large portion of the high end. Apple will shrivel up into their ~10% and it will be up to whomever can release a high quality phone for about $200.

As a comparison, within the last year we went from hearing how tablets were exploding onto the scene and today we have a ZDNet article on how perhaps those growth forecasts weren't close to accurate. Anything can happen. A court could find Google in violation of anti-trust laws and boom goes any interest in Android (from Google) if users don't default to their services for ad revenue.

Without any bias, mobile division has copied but other than that Samsung is a huge company with innovation and advanced research capabilities. It is leader in screen technology at the moment and very good in processors as well.

About current developments, Samsung will halt its Magazine UX. But other companies will feel the threat and may move away from android. HTC and LG are struggling in the smartphone business. Historically HTC have been with MS, so they may get closer to MS as their is more opportunity for them in Windows Phone market than Android.

How did that work out for Nokia? They were not able to gain more than a few percent of the market, why would HTC be able to do any better?

The market is incredibly competitive. During Nokia's "early" days in WP, there were market factors such as RIM's presence in the market as the third player, in its demise, but tg market and developers were uncertain which way the tide would turn for them (especially with BB 10) in development. So one factor was that, the market/developers were waiting to see who to cast their investment in, WP or RIM(later Blackberry) as one emerged as the 3rd ecosystem and the other died. Two, Windows Phone, which only launched in 2010 was up and coming, virtually unknown to regular consumers, mention Windows Phone a few years ago you'd get a blank look and a "huh?" Nokia had a duo duty create a brand, in a market saturated with to very popular brands iPhone running iOS and Galaxy phones running Android. Nokia literally had to create the Lumia brand AND propel the Windows Phone platform into mainstream consciousness. The battle is not done but Nokia has been successful in creating a brand, in "Lumia" that is increasingly popular, and has been successful in pushing the Window Phone platform out to the masses(520/521) and helping to get the platform in the general consciousness.
HTC's early devices(8x/8s) were decent WP's but HTC was, as we know was barely committed to the platform as they pursued Android. At this point, if HTC makes dedicated push for the Windows Phone platform, they will have benefited from the heavy lifting Nokia committee to the platform which put Windows Phone in the mainstream and helped to make the OS the solid third player with greater developer support as we've seen in 2013 with a small deluge of popular apps and as a survey yielded greater developers interest in WP.
HTC can approach things differently than Nokia has. They can maybe diversify the WP choices by releasing a device with h build like the One. Maybe they can release on all carriers close to simultaneously and not be bound to carrier exclusives. HTC used to be my brand of choice 2125(Windows Mobile 5.0), 8525(Windows Mobile 6.0),8925((Windows Mobile 6.5),Titan(WP 7.5) I'm all in with Nokia now(1020 and 1520) but I would definitely be interested in seeing what HTC can do if thier all in The ONE's build is amazing!
So I think another OEM, strongly committed to WP will only build in the heavily lifting done by Nokia, the fact WP is now a solid third, developer interest is increased and Windows Phone is now better known by consumers.

I think the real factor was that mobile app development was really, really nascent.  It is still in its toddler phase, really. 

 

I met someone who worked for Microsoft corporate, and the problem with apps was that developers were just too small to creat an app for ANOTHER platform. Microsoft could have dumped millions on developers and it wouldn't have mattered: those app developers were just too small to do dev and support, not enough people.  Another MASSSSSIVE issue is that buying a Windows PC does not automatically make it free to develop for Windows like it does for Mac (and developing for Android is also basically free). You have to buy Visual Studio to develop for Windows Phone. That's another big blockade.

 

If Microsoft really wanted to see Windows Phone explode, they would give away a version of Visual Studio for RT/Mobile when you buy a Windows Phone and register as a developer. They are doing the first step in that by making VS free for students with a DreamSpark account. 

 

Ask Apple of having a score of hardware partners is the key to success, or is it the apps?

It's very likely Lenovo will assemble in the US as well.  They've started to do that again with their Think line.

This is going to be a great year for competition. Apple reportedly increasing iPhone size, Microsoft getting Nokia hardware and now Samsung getting cozier with Google.

I'm not really sure about that...actually...I think "blood bath" is more what is to come instead of competition.

Keep a very, very close eye on Jolla. Because I think we are going to see why 2014 will be like 1984.

 

"Our enemies shall talk themselves to death, and we will bury them with their own confusion."

 

 

Google and Samsung are being too nice to each other maybe it won't affect WP but it will kill other OEMS running Android, Samsung already has a huge chunk of Android why not make it one.

All I know is I finally understand how hardcore Nokia fans felt when they were unwantingly sold...I hope Microsoft keeps up Nokia's style and lenovo does the same with Motorola :(

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

Honestly, Android will be fine on its own with Samsung, obviously. But a single strong Android maker isn't going to keep the other OEMs happy, and that's better for WP... If they get tired of MSFT license fees for Android, the obvious choice is to switch to something like WP.

It's important to remember that Google has open-source apps in AOSP, and close-source apps in Google Play. The voice search stuff was never open-source. Nor is Gmail, or Search — pick your poison.

The Ars piece Dan links to was trying too hard to make a point, and missed.

Google Play editions have been a disaster.

"Hey, buy this phone off contract for an insane price and where half the hardware feautures don't work!"

"What's the advantage of that?"

"Less custom software, and system updates that only take 4 months to come out instead of 6!"

"Uh, no thanks. I think I will just get the one that's subsidised and all the hardware works."

I agree. Microsoft and Nokia each have a juggernaut of patents, but linking them together really blows my mind. Time will tell to see how this will be executed.

I don't agree with this articles spin. It is well documented that Motorola is on a losing streak against Microsoft in the courts. They had yet to sign a patent license agreement and all evidence pointed at it being merely a matter of time. Google unloaded Motorola for many reasons and one of them was to save face. Imagine Motorola paying Microsoft royalties while still owned by Google?

It doesn't have to. If Microsoft reaches a deal with Lenovo, then that will automatically cover Motorola.

Windows Phone doubled in sales last year thanks to ONE phone, the Lumia 520.

 

Windows Phone has the ability to win in the low end. It is incredibly efficient, and rumours are that 8.1 is going to require less RAM and less space on the phone.  Microsoft is said to be offering Windows Phone 8.1 licenses free of charge. If Microsoft is looking to partner with anyone with Windows Phone, look to the OEMs doing cool things in the low end, like ZTE, Alcatel and Geeksphone. I think most people are looking in the wrong direction. High-end Windows Phones aren't selling. This idea that for Windows Phone to gain popularity is for a slew of beastly phones to arrive has been proven wrong. 

I believe that with Lenovo + Motorola Android, Google win by far. Lenovo is a great competitor and a winner for excellence in everything that develops. I think that the goal of Google is that Android has at least 2 strong manufacturers instead of only Samsung. But for Windows Phone i can you agree that Lenovo have Motorola will help: they will be in the USA to war against all

I didn't understand the last part of your comment BUT if Google was indeed worried to have more than one OEM dominating Android, they would have strengthen their relationships with HTC, Sony and LG. They did nothing of a kind.

Yeah, LG and Asus are probably pissed right now.

 

i don't think Sony cares at all what Google does. They already own a mobile OS with a ton of apps on it: Vita OS.  Which my guess is a successor to Mylo.  There's already Android compatibility companies that are licensing their Dalvik engine to people like Jolla and Blackberry.  If Sony added Android compatibility to Vita OS for phones, and then released a successor to Xperia Play, it would make no difference to Sony.

I wouldn't trade my windows phone in for any of this nonsense. This operating system may not have all the gimmicks (a'la sports science) but it is clean, bold and says "I could care less what's popular, I make my own decisions." If I wanted to complicate my cell phone experience I'd get an android. I've gone from an HTC touch II to a focus, Lumia 900, 520 and now 1020 and I'll never leave WP unless I have to.

It makes zero sense. I still consider this an uneducated error, although I recognise many people use it.

That "complicated experience" on Android depends on the Android OEM you chose. If you pick up a Sony one or a Motorola with stock Android, they both have very clean and user friendly interfaces. You pick up a Samsung and things start to get complicated.

I wouldn't mind Samsung ditching the terrible touchwiz crap and being googles go-to for nexus devices. There is no denying that they know how to sell a phone and they have a huge brand identity.

Honestly, I find the majority of the bloat Samsung crams into a phone useless. Aside from the camera app I guess.

Meh Daniel...google has lost 10 billion dollars in this deal..it's simply a failure like wave or buzz or google+...and from android google gains are very little..the android future is owned by Samsung..

They have not lost 10 billion. Read the opening paragraph. They only sold the hardware but retain the patents, which were more valuable. Tsk.

But google spent a lot of money for the Motorola rise, and has lost almost all the Lawsuits against Microsoft in the patents war..i don't know..the strategy behind is not clear..

Will Sony have stronger intent to create a Windows Phone? If i was swimming in a Samsung-shark infested ocean with only a puddle to myself, I'd contemplate moving to a fresh, clear spring of hope (WP) to splash with the Nokia-coy carp :D

Daniel it is not 10bn loss, Google has already sold the Motorla Home, set-top box business, for $2.6 bn in 2013. So Goodle sold Motorola for 2.91+2.6  = $5.5 bn. They still got all the patents which have definitely more value.

Here's the math: $12.5 purchase price -$3bn cash on balance sheet - $2bn cable modem division sale - $2.9bn Motorola mobility sale +~$2bn operating losses since acquisition = $6.6bn for patents that aren't generating royalties. Plus, the structure is that ~$1.5bn is paid over the next 3 years (probably based on performance). We're talking about $8.1bn at this point.

I suspect part of Daniel's point is that the patents have value beyond the royalty revenues they generate: patents are like nuclear arsenals and serve to prevent other firms' patents from blocking Google, not in a directly legal fashion, but either through cross licensing or mutually assured destruction. Of course, if they have been losing in court regularly to MS (I don't have first hand knowledge about that), then that would significantly undermine this role in the value calculation. They may still be strategically important to them in their other front against Apple.

Don't forget they also sold off the cable box business that was included in the original purchase. They got $2.4B in that sale. That totals $5.31B recouped from the $12.5B spent on Motorola. That leaves $7.19B as the value of the patents they retained. Who knows if that is the true value of patents.

I don't like google, and I don't like Samsung, for a number of reasons on both. If WP was to disappear tomorrow, I would begrudgingly move to Apple. If MS does things right, WP should have a good future. It won't be dominate any time soon, but that's ok by me. The only player on android that I would be interested in would be Sony. Here's to hoping they come out with a strong WP showing, that would make a decision tough for me, depending on what MS/OEMs have on the table in less than a year.

Actually, the main reason I bought a windows phone is that I hate Apple AND Google. Only after buying the phone, I started liking it and loving it. Which made me buy Lumia 920.

If Microsoft stops developing Windows phone? Frankly I don't care. WP might miss loads of features but none of them are deal breakers for me. If the world becomes Android and ios only and my 920 stops working, I will just move to dumb phones. Period.

I doubt it will mean anything.  When Google purchased Moto, everyone claimed "It would kill MS's chances in mobile.".  When they released the Moto X there were claims that "Nokia's Lumia line was finished.".  When the Moto G was announced, there was panic since it was supposed to be "the final nail in WP's coffin."

WP will do just fine.

Well, most smart people knew it'd be 18 months before we start to see the fruit of the Google/Moto labors. That WAS starting to happen with the Moto X and Moto G devices, but alas, we'll never know. 

Yeah, but even then sales of the Moto X and G were pathetic, not to mention the $200+ million per quarter Moto was loosing.  The Moto X is already approaching firesale prices with increasingly extreme sales everyweek.

I consider this a bonus for Microsoft instead of a detriment. Please, Daniel, add anything that I'm missing here, but what i got out of this was that Samsung threatened Google, and Google forces Samsung to play their way in order to stay on board with Google's ideal Android experience. Google sells off Motorola, and Samsung ditches Magazine. Everything is fine. However, doesn't this spark a sort of hatred towards Google from Samsung for forcing them to ditch a UX they found superior? Idk about you, but wouldn't that lead to a tighter relationship with Microsoft, since they are the ones who more or less agree on the ideal user experience?

Long term, Samsung wasn't a sure thing for Google. Sure, 83% of the market is Samsung Galaxy, but that same company is pouring billions into their own homegrown Tizen OS. How does that make Google feel long term?

Now, if Google and Samsung have put aside their differences (no Moto, no Tizen), then both companies are truly partners.

Why do people care about Tizen?!! Samsung time and again demonstrates it cannot make quality apps. So to trust them with an entire OS?!!
& how are they possibly going to close the app gap?! MS has struggled to get critical mass with Windows Phone...how on Earth does Samsung expect to compete?
I for one hope Samsung go with Tizen. It's about time they got a bloody nose.

Daniel as you have mentioned before about Nokia having the forked android as a back up I believe that Samsung has not abandoned tizen as long term it would be very unwise and billions have already been invested into it. Samsung and most all businesses wish to relieve themselves on depending on other companies HW or SW to maximize profit and independence. I predict Samsung will have their own OS within 5 years and android to be powering more and more interfaces on technology other than smartphones

No Moto already happened. But no tizen won't happen in my opinion. Samsung already dropped loads of cash into the tizen pit. Why lose everything for another company?

Not to mention, to a company that's already surrendered?

It’d be like Nokia pushing Microsoft out of the way saying “we got this” when it comes to core OS development. Helping is one thing. Redirecting development is another.

That's exactly what Nokia were doing. Have you tried using Windows Phone on another OEM's device? Absolutely no effort, stuck with Microsofts slow approach to updating and pretty basic features. Nokia is the only Windows Phone worth owning. My personal fear is that Microsoft buying Nokia hardware will end up in a slow Nokia with slow updates and no innovation to keep their other OEM's happy, making the entire of Windows Phone just as crap as third party phones not from Nokia.

I love my Lumia, but if that happens, I'll just buy another bloody iPhone, I'm done.

Like I said, Nokia is helping fill in the OS, but they were not stealing the direction. Once again, adding a few apps here and there is ONE thing, holding your own developer conference and having 1200 APIs is another. You really can't compare Samsung|Android to Nokia|Windows Phone. 

I love the OS and personally own a Nokia phone so I want the same type of passion to continue with a healthy dose of competition. However, I'm a worried that the Nokia phones innovative and risky passion trait I've come to like will drowned in the sea of BS, blue tape, in-house VP greed and "slow to-deliver-latest-technology-to-the-masses" trait MS seems to be famous for to the general public. I really hope that doesn't happen though.

Indeed Daniel! I think this is not good for Windows Phone, but WMPoweruser thinks that this is good for Windows Phone, LOL !! I just don't get it, the way they think, i saw how shocked you guys were on the podcast xd

Is that sarcasm or are you serious? Do you really not think that Windows itself is not in danger?  And it's major threat is Android/Chrome. That's not to say that MS won't still prevail, but they are clearely not the powerhouse in terms of market share they once were. There's always a new company, with a whole new approach just waiting to disrput the old guard. The problem here is that "new" company, Google, in my opinion has a terrible business model for me as a consumer -- their customer is the advertiser, and they want to make me their product. No thanks. I'll stick with MS (or even Apple), where I am the customer.

 

Samsung and Google were tied together for some time now. Nothing new here except that Google started to compete against its OEMs in earnest with Moto X and G, so Samsung probably demanded Google (rightfully so) to quit screwing Android OEM partners. Google had to give in. That's all there is to it IMO.

I think this is in fact a good development for Windows Phone because Google won't be throwing money into cheap phones to kill off Lumia 520s (neither will Lenovo or Samsung).

^this a thousand times

 

anyone who thought at this stage that Tizen was more than an (expensive) bargaining chip, was seriously deluded. Samsung is too far into the game and has sold way too many android devices to drop Android. Maybe skin it over beyond recognition, yes. Drop it or abandon Play altogether, no way. So from the WP point of view who cares if they would have skinned it or not... what's far more of an existential threat was google dumping moto x and g onto the market at zero margin, killing WPs only real accepted strong suit. Unless lenovo has very deep pockets, and is ok with killing their overall profit margin, it seems unlikely this will continue.

So google and Samsung may each have used up their expensive bargaining chips (moto and tizen plus W8 ripoff UI) but from our point of view aren't any closer or further apart (Samsung was already none existent in terms of WP)

"Samsung probably demanded" Samsung actually "threatened" Google. If Google produced low cost phones to kill 5xx, Google will be in big loss and trouble.

Where does HTC fit into this? I mean, we could all be forgetting about them. What if they turn tail on Android and become a WP only OEM along with all other OEMs that are strictly Android? WP would be the platform were OEMs could thrive much like Android a few years ago. Just my thought though..

HTC doesn't suddenly not have to compete with Samsung if they start using Windows Phone. That is like saying Samsung doesn't compete with Apple since they use different platforms. It doesn't make any sense. If you were trying to start a computer company, you would not choose Linux because it would only give you access to a few percent of the market. You would use Windows because that is what people buy. HTC only offering Windows Phones or even putting much time into it doesn't make sense because it would only give them access to a small portion of the market. They would be much better off improving their Android devices as that would give them access to a much bigger market.

You do not fight heavy weights like Apple and Samsung with your hands tied behind your back. By concentrating on Windows Phone they would be doing exactly that.

Actually the percentage of the market available to non Samsung OEMs is not huge. Of the 79% Android global market share, 30% is owned by Android. The remaining 50% is shared by around 24 or more OEMs. That, even if shared evenly among them leaves about 2% of the market apiece. Now added to this is the fact that Androids growth is slowing and forecast to continue to slow, whereas Windows Phone, though only at approximately 4% of the market is growing. WP has doubled its maker share year over year.
Any OEM who jumps in now, particularly in emerging markets, focusing on the low end is likely going to successful as part of this growth market.

Wasn't Motorolla one of the last hold-outs that refused to pay Microsoft for patent licensing?  Now Lenovo will own Motorolla WITH NO PATENTS to go along with it.  Seems like this is potentially another revenue stream for Microsoft.  And patent licensing could be a negotiating chip that Microsoft can use with Lenovo to get them to make Motorolla Windows Phones.  Samsung's going to sell a crap load of Android phones whether Google owns Motoralla or not.  This story seems like good news to me.

Please please please MS don't screw up on the NOKIA hardware, I really like what NOKIA is doing right now, I'm really afraid of NOKIA turning to crap because there is nothing else I'd like to buy!

When Nokia provided them with bluetooth 4.0 and FM radio built-in hardware for specific lumia phones (eg. Lumia 920), Microsoft did not know how to make those hardware work until somedays their programmers had a starbuck coffee. Now in the late 2013 and 2014, we just had an OS that supports the bluetooth 4.0 (Lumia Black) and FM radio where those hardware were there since 2012 released from Nokia. Microsoft is slowpoke.

Samsung and Android are/have been in bed together. Apple will be fine just look at the amount of one phone model they sell much less the new sizes they have coming out.
The best thing WP can do is push out the updates faster and keep making Nokia quality handsets. Also quit looking over their own platform like they are doing with the Bing rewards.

Nothing to worry about, Microsoft will continue to make Windows Phone much better than its rivals, right? Oh, Bing rewards you say? Ok, guess Microsoft's goose is cooked!

Microsoft is its own worst enemy, by not opening up windows phone, every windows phone looks the same, developers want to run custom home screens to differentiate one phone from another. Make it their own and Microsoft does not allow this. That is one problem, slow updates is another problem, apps and games, Microsoft has a gaming division and refuses to publish games for windows phone gears , halo for wp with xbox live support would be nice, but no. The solution is so clear, the resources are there and Microsoft continues to chase apple when apple is no longer the threat here

This is in the works, even slight changes like the back button becoming extinct and new on screen home and search

Look at the note 3 and the htc one max, same operating system but totally different experience. Lg likes to create their own interface for android. Microsoft does not understand this and it will continue to cost them no one will want to make windows phones. They need to open up the os asap to stand a chance.

I am being realistic as much as i like stock windows phone , letting phone manufacturers customize the start screen is a good thing. Even though stock android is the best. Samsung phones still sell the most. With touch wiz. This is what separates one phone from the other and that is what windows phone lacks

I think they are starting to become more of a mix between Apple and Google. Microsoft controls hardware and software like Apple does. But they offer services and get ad renvenue like Google does.

Slow updates? ATLEAST WP GETS UPDATES, sooo many android devices get screwed out of updates.
Halo on wp with xbox support? Are you seriously that stupid? (hint:spartan assault)

Halo Spartan assault is a good game, but i don't consider it to be a true halo experience. Halo is better as a fps, and windows phone now has the power to make it happen with phones like the 1520. You were quick to dismiss my idea and call me stupid. But people like you are clearly retarded. And childish go back to Kinder garden and learn some manners fool.

Look at halo 1 , 2 , 3 does Spartan assault even look close. I am a halo fan i like Spartan assault however i don't consider it to be a true halo game. Would you rather Spartan assault or halo 2 with online multiplayer and moga support. Microsoft needs to start leveraging their gaming division. Windows phones are on par with android phones in terms of power. Microsoft needs to capitalize on this. Exclusive games true halo and true gears of war, true forza.

I agree with almost all of that, except the implied assumption that more OEMs will automatically result in more WP sales. UI customization is a feature for OEMs, designed to lure in OEMs. Consumers dislike it. Explain why adding something most consumers despise should increase WP sales, and why having more OEMs is important when every mobile OS was driven to success by only a single OEM. Then I might buy the argument.

More oem drives growth even though Samsung dominates the android market there are still companies like Sony that sell phones like the xperia z1 still surpassing all Nokia windows phone sale. They still have an android experience that differentiates itself. Many people i speak to using android say windows phone is boring and lacks customization, i don't agree with the boring statement wp is appealing however it does not have sufficient customization and personalization. Put an htc 8x next to a lumia 920 it looks the same Put an htc one next to a galaxy s4, its totally different. Even if its a subtle difference in theme then htc even goes further by adding in sense 5. What options does oem have on windows phone. None beside their own apps. Only Nokia apps are made with effort. Our marketplace is on a roll. Now is the time to open up the os for oems amazing things can be done with the performance of windows phone

I understand that you want a full Halo on wp(I'm even with you), but you did not answer my question, Halo: SA is an xbox live title on wp and that is what you initially asked for so I don't understand why you get mad at me when I point out that we already have a wp halo game with xbox live support, which is what you said we don't have in your first comment. You should have been more specific.

You are correct i should have been more specific, but i don't view assault as a full blown halo game. That's why i am asking for one. Games like modern combat run flawless on windows phone, windows phone is capable of running halo with full 3d graphics, online multiplayer and xbox live achievements.

Dude youre the only person I heard say this. I like the fact that windows phone is consistent across diff devices!

Having consistency is important, however by not allowing oems to customize their phones, will cause them to drift away from the platform. Galaxy note 3 is an example of this, if all android phones had to look the same like with windows phone, the note would not have been so popular, Samsung added in true multitasking and many other features that stock android does not have. Oems like their phones to stand out and be different even though its the same operating system, if Samsung wanted to create a galaxy note equivalent on windows phone they would not be able to because of how restrictive wp8 is. They cant even change the home screen, and Microsoft wonders why no one wants to make windows phones beside nokia

Even if Microsoft starts paying oems to make windows phones it wont make a difference. Nokia already dominates with camera technology, so why will other oems compete. With windows phone you have the home screen that cannot change and the camera. Which Nokia dominates in, if i were an oem i would stay far from windows phone. Because i wont be able to customize a phone to suit my taste or needs

Well how about this: whenever anyone mentions Samsung, reply with "who?" and whenever they mention android, say "what?" until they feel so embarrassed they reach for the nearest Windows Phone :D this will definitely work with the overly self conscious young android users, what do ya say?

Just try doing it and get the "have you lived under the rock for the past years??" look each time you do it. Come on, be real there :))

Google needs a strong chinese OEM for Android before the Chinese companies fled the market with new chinese govt. approved mobile OS. Lenovo can sell more android handset in China than motorolla. Samsung is not doing that well in China.

If indeed Google manages to finally put Samsung on a leash, that's also not good news for Android OEM's themselves. Even though Google can not discriminate one OEM in favour of another, they'll be most likely to do changes to Android per request of Samsung than per request of Sony or HTC.

 

I still want to see what will happen to Tizen. For some reason I have the feeling Samsung will NOT drop it anyway. After all, just like with Nokia, people don't buy their phones because "it's Android". They buy it because "it's Samsung". So I wouldn't be THAT relieved if I were at Mountain View either way.

 

As for Microsoft, they should indeed be worried. Not only because apparently Samsung and Google came close together. Microsoft should be concerned about the fact that Nokia CAN now license ALL their patents. And that Nokia HAS a good relationship with Samsung.
What that means is, Windows Phone strongest selling point compared to Android now is the imaging capabilities of Nokia. Nokia is out the door. Microsoft licenses Nokia's technology. Fine. BUT Nokia's technology is no longer exclusive to WP devices. Which means that in theory, Samsung CAN license Nokia's tech (think PureView and all of that).

Well, with this new approximation to Google, Samsung can through Nokia's tech, remove that last advantage that WP has over Android (apart from esthetics which vary from person to person). Which means...you can see flagship Samsung CLEAN ANDROID (as opposed to the damn Touch Wiz) devices with all the tech from Nokia. Which means that all Samsung will be left to do is nail down hardware quality. Well...they've already bought considerable stocks of Gorila Glass...

 

With the Lenovo deal, Motorola just lost the chance of me ever considering a Motorola device.

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