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8/22/2011
09:41 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Android Phone Maker Considers Jump To Windows Phone

Google's planned purchase of Motorola Mobility has INQ openly examining alternative mobile operating systems.

Google's blockbuster announcement last week to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion has a lot of ramifications. At least one of those is what happens to other Android device makers like Samsung, HTC, and LG? It is difficult enough to compete with others on an equal footing, but, assuming the deal goes through, Motorola will have an inside track. That has caused one Android device maker to openly question the deal and consider Windows Phone instead.

Outwardly, Google's Android partners welcomed the news. Samsung, LG, HTC, ZTE and others all lined up to applaud the move, saying Google is doing the right thing by acquiring Motorola. The move gives Google an arsenal of patents that will help defend Android in legal action, something that it has been dealing with quite often lately.

However, small Android device maker INQ has outwardly expressed concern that it gives Motorola an unfair advantage. INQ makes the Facebook phone and Skype phone. CEO Frank Meehan said "We see a number of major vendors very seriously considering Windows Mobile as a core platform and therefore we are following their lead and examining it as well to complement our work in Android to date." He is speaking of Windows Phone, not the older Windows Mobile 6.x platform.

Palm had some trust issues when it was making devices and licensing PalmOS to third parties like Sony and Handspring. It tried to solve the issue by spinning off the software division as a separate company. Google is doing the opposite here, buying a company that will compete with its own customers.

Meehan also sees advantages in Windows Phone over Android when it comes to costs. The legal threat surrounding Android can dramatically increase the cost of the device, and the increase is unknown. HTC is already paying Microsoft $5 per handset and Samsung is being asked to pay $15. When using Windows Phone, there is one fixed cost you negotiate with Microsoft and you are indemnified from any patents the OS may infringe upon.

That coupled with the fact that Microsoft has no plans to get into the hardware business with its own phone make Windows Phone a viable alternative to an Android-only business model.

Another interesting possibility is WebOS. HP killed off all devices running the platform but it says the OS will live on and is looking at licensing alternatives. I don't see that as being realistic though. With developer support drying up, what company would take on not only a dying OS but also trying to revive an entire ecosystem?

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