Surprise, surprise. It looks like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) already favored Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI ) for its Android smartphones, even before it acquired the entire company.
Several rather interesting internal presentation documents have surfaced amid Google's ongoing court battle with Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL ) over Android and Java. The federal judge presiding over the patent and copyright infringement case opted not to withhold those documents from the broader public.
The title of Google's most notable slide says it all: "If we gave it away, how can we ensure we get to benefit from it?" There are a handful of interesting bullet points, but two in particular deserve extra attention:
- "Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete."
- "Lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard."
This document shows that Google has been playing favorites all along, and reveals that the Android playing field is not truly as level and open as the company purports.
When the company announced its intent to acquire what we now know to be its favored partner, Android chief Andy Rubin publicly maintained that Google would not give Motorola preferential treatment. Other OEM partners like Samsung and HTC were expected to take Rubin's statements at face value. So much for "Don't be evil."
Google's proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility is already bound to draw antitrust regulator scrutiny. This document's revelations should only intensify that spotlight. Big G will have a much tougher time arguing that this deal to vertically integrate its hardware and software, like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) does, won't alter the competitive landscape.
With a market share greater than 40%, Android represents a huge chunk of the mobile market that Google could easily corner, if it lavishes love on Motorola while giving its other OEM partners-turned-competitors short shrift. In other words, the argument for Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows Phone 7 taking third place in the mobile OS wars just got a little stronger.