The not-so-secret revealed: Google doesn't love Motorola
There are those who believe in Santa Claus and the Great Pumpkin and the Easter Bunny and rancor-free presidential elections and cooperation between political parties. Of course we all know that none of those are real.
Then there's me. I believed that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) could and would reshape the pay TV business with its Motorola acquisition. I believed this even as Google built out Google Fiber without Motorola hardware in Kansas City and analyst after analyst said the company only wanted Motorola's wireless patents.
My stubborn thinking continued to follow the train that there would be no better way to drive IPTV into telco and cable homes than to put Android in a set-top box or gateway built by a manufacturer that already had millions of devices and infrastructure in Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) systems. Rather than compete with the cable guys, Google could complement them--and simultaneously provide a welcome respite from the dangerously proprietary Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) that pay TV providers are cautiously munching.
It made sense. Here's Google, with an OS it wants to share, and here's a burgeoning wireline industry in need of a non-proprietary way to deliver the Internet over television sets and throughout subscriber homes. The two, while admittedly wary, appeared synergistic (and isn't that a term that corporations love?) enough to perhaps work this out.
Then along comes John Lagerling, director of business development for Android, who I'm sure doesn't go around telling little kids that Santa is a phony, that bunnies don't deliver eggs and that anyone dumb enough to sit in a pumpkin patch on Halloween deserves frostbite, but who had no qualms shattering my illusions when he told The New York Times that Motorola is just "another partner" in the Google Android sphere.
Even more seriously, he really slammed a stake through my heart when he suggested Motorola is not a serious player when it comes to Google's new Nexus tablet--or at least it's not on the same level as Samsung and LG.
It's now obvious to me that Google won't be taking Motorola to the next level (pun intended).
"Google's made it pretty clear that it doesn't think much of Motorola's hardware," wrote Owen Thomas in a Business Insider story for the San Francisco Chronicle. "Motorola has a set-top business, for example--but that doesn't seem to be a factor in any of Google's TV plans."
What does factor in Google's--or any other company's plans--is money, and Motorola is "proving more expensive to fix than Google thought. And Motorola dragged down Google's most recent earnings," Thomas continued. "[R]ight now, everything Google is saying and doing indicates that Motorola's not up to stuff. It's just a pile of patents, with a flailing business attached."