It was a hell of a week in the mobile world.
Google + Motorola = ?
Google announced the purchase of Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion and now finds themselves in the hardware business. Ironic given HP’s announcement in the same week declaring that they were getting out of hardware. Google’s story to the press is primarily about patents. They have been priming the pump four a couple weeks by making public statements to the effect that Apple is choosing to litigate, not innovate.
While valuable, you can be fairly sure that the acquisition is about more than just patents. It’s generally agreed that the Android user experience is not as good as Apple’s. Much of that has to do with the concessions Google must make to carriers and manufacturers and to the lack of control Google has in what happens to their OS once it leaves the Google firewall. My guess is that Google realizes they need to control the end-to-end user experience in order to make devices that are more competitive with Apple on the engagement front. While there are a lot of Android devices being sold, those users aren’t as active in consuming apps and data as users on iOS devices. A more seamless user experience may be the key to getting Android users more engaged. After all, Google is in this game to increase traffic to its cash cow, advertising.
RIP TouchPad, Pre and PC Says HP
Post-PC era indeed. Once again, Steve Jobs has proven prescient when it comes the direction of technology markets. Perhaps that’s because Apple pretty much controls technology markets. Just a couple months ago at WWDC 11, he was demoting the PC to just another device and once again declaring this the post-PC era (first declared in June 2010).
This week, HP helped make Jobs’ pronouncements a reality. In a somewhat shocking move, HP announced that it was getting out of the hardware business entirely and would now focus on services. A casualty of the change were the TouchPad and Pre devices built to run the recently acquired WebOS mobile operating system. As of now there are no devices being manufactured to run WebOS, but if you hurry you might be able to get a really great deal on the devices that remain on the market.
In response to the announcement, Microsoft is trying to get WebOS developers to switch to WP7 by offering them free phones. My guess is they will just get tech savvy users looking to score a free phone.
What happens to WebOS remains to be seen. While most presumed WebOS was dead, HP says it just isn’t so. But what will they do with WebOS? Put it in printers (yawn)? Hang on to Palm for the patents? License the OS to other manufacturers like Samsung and HTC?
Skype Buys GroupMe Messaging Startup
Skype was busy this weekend. They bought GroupMe for an estimated $85 million. GroupMe is a group messaging service built on top of the Twilio platform. It allows users to quickly spin up groups by dynamically assigning them phone numbers and allowing them to communicate by SMS or the GroupMe app. That means it works even if you don’t download the app and even if your friends or co-workers don’t have a smartphone. It’s a great service for communicating with teams or groups of friends. I used it a ton at the last SXSW. It seems like a logical fit for Skype who, like everyone else in the tech industry, sees their future firmly planted in mobile devices.
PayPal Acquires Zong
PayPal has definitely been benefitting from the mobile explosion and is now planning to extend their mobile payment services to include Zong, a company I had never heard of until yesterday. Zong reduces the friction of making payments online by saving users the trouble of entering all their credit card and contact information when ordering products. Instead, Zong just sends an approval code to the user’s mobile device. Pretty clever.