Monday, August 15, 2011

There is no Motorola

A Victor V phonograph, ca. 1907Image via WikipediaThe Galvin Manufacturing Corporation was born in 1928. The Victrola was the brand name for a range of phonographs, with a turntable and amplifying horn, which launched in 1906.

It seems both appropriate and spooky that it was the acquisition of patents that made Motorola possible. Paul Galvin, of the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation, picked up patents to the automotive radio and bought the rights to use the trade name Motorola - motor plus Victrola.

The trademark "Motorola" has been used since 1930.

The famous quote below was spoken over a Motorola Radio;

"... one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Despite its fantastic history, Motorola has had to battle hard in recent years. At the start of 2011, Motorola, Inc, split itself in two. The successor to Motorola, Inc. was a company called Motorola Solutions. The spinoff half was known as Motorola Mobility.

It's Motorola Mobility that Google has said it is willing - and will try to buy - for $12.5bn. There are substantial "talks" with US regulators to go through first.

It's understandable that today's news is causing a buzz. People are speculating whether this buy is all about the patents. Certainly, in Larry Page's blog post he says;

Motorola has a history of over 80 years of innovation in communications technology and products, and in the development of intellectual property, which have helped drive the remarkable revolution in mobile computing we are all enjoying today.

(My emphasis)

It's certainly likely that patents played a significant role in this. I do wonder just which patents Motorola Solutions owned compared to the spin-off Motorola Mobility, though.

Could this be about the devices? Perhaps. I'm an Android fan and one of the frustrations I have with vendors is that they insist on putting their own touch to the software on the phones. It doesn't create an attractive USP for them. It just slows down, sometimes stops, the rollout of OS upgrades.

I wonder whether this determination to skin Android software that has been one of the biggest challenges in the development of Android Tablets.

So, Google's not bought Motorola; they've announced the intention to buy spin-off Motorola Mobility. It'll be exciting to find out what the real plans are.

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