Everyone is certain that Google’s purchase of Motorola is going to do something to the mobile market, but no one is sure just what.
Potential Effect on Mobile Device Market
Will Google actually keep Android and Motorola separate but equal, as it has promised? Will the acquisition, if approved by federal regulators, prompt an Android-development war between Google, HTC, and Samsung? (The latter two companies are major manufacturers of phone handsets with the Android operating system on board. Some think that they’ll begin to craft the Android in a more proprietary direction to compete with Google, if it enters its own handset into the market.)
Potential Effect on Mobile Web Design
The way it might work is this: if the acquisition leads to what Google CEO Larry Page proposes will be a “supercharged Android,” website developers can perhaps look forward to faster and more powerful devices — whether they come from Google, Samsung, or HTC. (Or, even Apple.)
Right now, not all Android handsets are created equal. The platform has captured about 50% of the handset market, but its customer retention rate is a mere 47% to 94% among brand-loyal iPhone users.
If Google’s favoring of Motorola devices means that Android is optimized in the way that Apple’s iOS is optimized for the iPhone, mobile website creators and developers can look forward to a device that works faster and with fewer variations among models.
Faster processing times, more uniform rendering of media, a general uptick in performance (presumably a drive to better that retention rate): all of these can mean smaller and less frequent headaches for site designers.
And the effect on Apple?
If the Google-Motorola merger does create a step-forward effect in handset operations, hardware and iOS developers could react by pushing the iPhone to be more powerful in response, too.
Unless the deal causes a multi-year anti-monopoly-style fight among Android-based and other manufacturers of smartphone systems — stunting instead of prompting development — the possibility of better devices and juiced-up operating systems means that the current tide of mobile adopters is going to keep coming.
That means more demand for higher functioning mobile web experiences.