Android partners put on a brave face this morning after Google announced its intention to purchase Motorola Mobility. While the acquisition -- once approved -- would bolster Google's patent portfolio, thereby helping protect Open Handset Alliance members from mounting lawsuits, there's always the risk that Motorola could begin trouncing the (Android) competition through early access to developer builds. In the past, Google reserved this access to a single, rotating hardware partner under its "Nexus" program. So far we've seen three "pure Android" devices released as the Nexus One (built by HTC), the Nexus S (Samsung), and the Xoom tablet (Motorola). Android chief Andy Rubin described Nexus devices as "the pinnacle of what we can achieve when integrating Android onto a piece of hardware." Being first to market with a Nexus device boasting the latest Android innovations should have advantages at retail, at least in theory.
So, it's with keen interest that we listened to Larry Page and Andy Rubin attempt to reassure its partners that Android will remain an open and level playing field even after Motorola Mobility's 19,000 employees are folded into the Googleplex. Click through to read and listen to their revealing responses.
First up is Google CEO Larry Page with his response to a question about "firewalling" software development (audio below):
We've had tremendous success with android because of our ability to manage and run that ecosystem with a number of different partners in the past and I expect that we'll continue to do that as well.
Andy Rubin then added the following while giving us some exposure to the overall Nexus process (audio below):
We have this strategy where we have this Nexus program and we have this lead device strategy. That strategy has worked quite well to help focus the team. What we do -- around christmas time of each year -- is we select a manufacturer that we work very closely with to release a device in that timeframe. That includes also semiconductor companies and all the components that go into the device. Essentially teams huddle together in one building, they jointly work in these development efforts, they go on for 9 to 12 months, and ultimately at the holiday season or right before it, devices pop out that are based on this effort. We don't expect that to change at all. The acquisition is going to be run as a separate business, they will be part of that bidding process and part of that lead development process. And obviously Android remains open to other partners to use as they are today.
Regardless of Google's assurances, we have the feeling that companies like HTC, LG, and Samsung are looking at Windows Phone, MeeGo, and even webOS with renewed interest this morning. You know, just in case Google's plan to license Android while simultaneously competing with Android licensees doesn't work out.
[embed title="Google Nexus Program"]http://podcasts.sbnation.com.s3.amazonaws.com/Google%20Nexus%20program.mp3[/embed]