When I told my good friend David Thon that Google’s planned purchase of smartphone maker Motorola Mobility was a pure EDA360 play, he invited me to explain. In simplest terms, EDA360 posits that software now drives hardware in the processor-centric world of System Realization and that both software and hardware need to be developed in tandem for the best user experience and to streamline the development effort. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the smartphone market. As Patrick May’s article in today’s San Jose Mercury News says:
“Google has long cast an envious eye on Apple’s prowess at making mobile technology feel natural to the human touch, with icons, touch screens and even on-off slide buttons that seem almost eerily intuitive. Partly because designers create that software and hardware in tandem, an iPhone user, for example, can effortlessly download music from iTunes to a phone, then share it across Apple’s landscape of tablets, laptops and desktops.
Google’s Android operating system, on the other hand, has multiple versions and dozens of different host phones, often making the Android experience feel clunky and laborious. Downloading music on an Android device, for example, could require a third-party provider or make a user take several steps to achieve what fans describe as the iPhone’s turnkey elegance.”
We’ve seen this same sort of thing for three decades in the PC business. Apple’s closed systems often work more smoothly than do PCs derived from the original IBM PC architecture and Microsoft operating systems (first DOS and then Windows). However, the “open” approach taken by IBM, then Intel and Microsoft ultimately seems to gather more apps. It’s been true for PCs and with Google’s Android, the stats seem to indicate it might also become true for smartphones.
With the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, Google will enter the rarefied atmosphere of companies that control both the smartphone hardware and software. That list includes Apple, RIM, an d HP. However, what’s not said in the article is that there will undoubtedly be implications for the other smartphone makers wedded to Google’s Android OS including makers such as HTC, Samsung, and LG. It’s too soon to tell what those implications might be.