Tech battle goes on


August 23, 2011

Usually in summer, everything calms down in the technology world, but the chain of events that occurred last week promise to change the future of technology, and may affect the consumer market in particular.

Beginning with, and without any previous rumours or leaks prior to the announcement of its intentions, Google acquired Motorola Mobility in a deal worth US$12.5bn. Regardless of the extraordinary value of the deal, Google owning a powerful manufacturer of smartphones and tablets such as Motorola would certainly change the roadmap of the technology’s future.

The completion of the deal will make the dream of a true Google Phone a reality, contrary to earlier phones released under this name that were manufactured by other companies, such as G1 and Nexus One from HTC, and Nexus S from Samsung.

The entire deal by Google may have been carried out to integrate hardware and software and for complete control to provide the best performance, as Apple does with its products. However, many believe that this is difficult because of Google’s fear of competing with its partners that use the Android operating system, who have reacted positively to the deal.

Some believe that this deal has been a result of the big battle over patents that took place recently between both Apple and Microsoft against Google. Google came out empty handed from a deal containing more than 6,000 patents which, in result, may affect the future of the Android platform.

For those who do not remember Motorola Mobility, it was one of the many companies that promoted the Android platform, starting with the popular 'Droid does' campaign, which focused on the unique and open features offered by Android and limited in other platforms. Through the campaign, the company was actually targetting the iPhone in order to change people’s idea of the device.

Motorola was able to book itself an important place in the list of the top manufacturers of Andr-oid smartphones such as Samsung and HTC.

Secondly, HP gave everyone a surprise after a couple of announcements, which became the talk of most tech websites and blogs. It said it was discontinuing its own tablet PC, the TouchPad, which it had released in the market last July. And not just that, but also all the phones that work on the webOS platform, which HP has possessed after the acquisition of Palm about a year ago.

This draws our attention and opens our eyes wide to an important issue: Is it acceptable for some companies to suddenly discontinue a product, especially a short period after its launch? After purchasing a product, the consumer expects the company to support it and to receive updates for a reasonable period.

Some of the updates that may be available after a full year of launching the product may change the user experience dramatically, as seen in the updates to smartphones like the Android and iPhone. So in the future, when buying a product from a company that does not have experience in this area, it might be good to give it a rethink.

This is in addition to HP's possibility of leaving the desktop PC and laptop industry and focusing on other areas such as software, which justifies its intention to buy Autonomy - a company that operates in this area - in a deal worth US$10bn.

What is happening is an indication of nothing but the intense competition between tech giants. This is all because of our heavy dependence on technology in our daily lives, to a level where we use it from the moment we wake up, till the moment we put our head on the warm pillow, and sometimes even while sleeping.

Although competition is always good in terms of user benefits, this is not always the case. For example, even Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility could spark competition with other platforms, but may also cause dispersion and confusion among companies that use Google services and mobile systems, especially the smaller ones.

Mohammed al Asmar is a technologist and web solutions developer. He has been working for more than ten years in different roles in ICT.