With Google now planning to acquire Motorola Mobility in a deal valued at $12.5 billion in cash, several companies in the industry are being affected. Android vendors are wondering what the future will look like. Apple is waiting to see how it should respond, and Research In Motion is left to worry if it has the right solutions in place to take on a now-even-more-powerful Google.
But Microsoft is arguably the company that will be affected most by the deal. Microsoft, like Google, offers mobile operating systems to vendors that then pack those into their handsets. Now that Google will be able to control both hardware and software, the company is potentially in a much better position to continue to steal market share from Microsoft, as well as take down the iPhone.
Luckily for Microsoft, though,it can do some things to blunt the potential effects of the Motorola Mobility acquisition. Although these countermeasures will cost the software giant some serious cash, it has no choice but to respond-and quickly.
Here are the ideas:
1. Buy RIM
It has been rumored for months now, butMicrosoft must finally pull the trigger and acquire RIM. Sure, the deal might cost the company billions and it will face regulatory scrutiny, but it’s the smart move. RIM is still an enterprise favorite, which will give Microsoft an advantage over Android-a platform that still only really appeals to consumers. Moreover, RIM’s shareholders seem ready to make a deal since they’re losing faith in their co-CEOs. The time has come for Microsoft to finally buy RIM.
2. Acquire patents
One of the key reasons Google acquired Motorola Mobility was its patent portfolio. The company has thousands of mobile patents that will help safeguard the search giant in court and potentially give it ammunition to go on the offensive. Microsoft, which already has a massive patent portfolio, should try its best to make some strategic acquisitions of more patents from other companies, such as Kodak and InterDigital. At this point, it appears the strongest patent holding will win the day in the mobile space.
3. Consider acquiring an Android vendor
Microsoft should also consider acquiring an Android handset maker. Whether that means it acquires the firm in addition to or instead of RIM is inconsequential. The fact is, Android handset makers aren’t necessarily happy with Google right now, and it seems like a prime time for Microsoft to steal a vendor and bring it to its own side.
4. Stay true to Nokia
When Microsoft announced that it had inked a deal with Nokia to bring Windows Phone 7 to the handset maker’s line of devices, some wondered why the software company didn’t just acquire Nokia. Although industry observers are calling for such a move, Microsoft shouldn’t do anything of the sort. Instead,Microsoft should simply continue on the same path with Nokia. The fact is, Nokia is a toxic company from an acquisition perspective, and Microsoft shouldn’t want any part of it
Make Nice With Handset Makers
5. Capitalize on disenfranchised vendors
Now that Google is acquiring Motorola Mobility, there’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace among other Android vendors. How will they be treated once the deal is complete? Will they not get immediate access to Android? Will Google give preferential treatment to Motorola? Those questions won’t be answered for quite some time. But in the meantime, Microsoft can capitalize on the confusion by offering those vendors guarantees of good treatment. After all, for now, the software giant doesn’t have a hardware vendor of its own. Itshould use that to its advantage until it finally does acquire another company.
6. Get working on tablets
Right now, the second-place spot in the tablet market is wide open. Apple’s iOS platform is succeeding because of the iPad 2, but no other device has really caught on. Because of that, Microsoft should consider doubling down on tablets. As Google gets distracted with Motorola, Microsoft can prove that it “gets” the tablet market. And in the process, it might be able to get itself into the second spot.
7. Make it hard on Google
It might not be the friendliest thing to do, but as Google starts working its way through the regulatory-approval process, perhaps Microsoft should make it hard on the search giant. It can complain, lean on lawmakers and generally just raise a fuss about the deal. It might not stop it from being approved, but if it can draw the process out and cost Google more cash, Microsoft will be able to tally a small victory in the companies’ battle.
8. Think twice about the litigation
Right now, Microsoft is targeting a host of Android vendors, requesting that they pay the company a “tax” on every Android-based device they sell. Looking ahead, maybe Microsoft should stop that. As mentioned, the software companyshould be thinking about playing nice with Android vendors. The last thing it should want to do right now is sue them. Such a move might ruin any chance of Microsoft inking a deal with the other firms later on.
9. Invest heavily in software
One of Microsoft’s biggest problems right now is that Windows Phone 7 just isn’t as nice as Android, and consumers have so far been unwilling to adopt it. To address that, Microsoft needs to spend its billions in cash and start finding the talent to improve Windows Phone 7. The company might say publicly that the OS is where it should be, but everyone knows the truth. Windows Phone 7 is in trouble, and Microsoft-especially now-must get down to improving it.
10. Start upping the hardware ante
Arguably one of Microsoft’s biggest problems has been the hardware running Windows Phone 7. Devices from vendors like Samsung and HTC have fallen short against better alternatives running Android and iOS. With Motorola on its way to Google, Microsoft needs to start leaning on handset partners to deliver better Phone 7 devices to customers. If they don’t do so, the software company will need to offer better options itself. Hardware is central to success in the mobile space, and Microsoft cannot forget that.