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Google's Strategy: Look Like Apple

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The commentary following Google's (GOOG - Get Report) stunning move to acquire Motorola Mobility (MMI - Get Report) is only half-right, at best. We are all told that Google's only motivation for doing this was to obtain Motorola's industry-leading patent portfolio.

It is absolutely true that Google had an extreme and acute near-term need to fill a patent void that threatened to unravel Android. Google had a few options to solve this problem, including buying Research In Motion (RIMM), as I wrote in a recent article.

Here is where most of the analysis I have read thus far today gets it wrong: People are saying that Google wanted Motorola only for the patents. Indeed, they are basically saying that the rest of Motorola's assets are basically a ball-and-chain for Google, a necessary evil.

The real story is this, I believe: Google wants to look like Apple (AAPL - Get Report) with a totally integrated cradle-to-grave approach to the market. This means that Google wants its own branded hardware, stores, music, movies, television, and other services.

Folks, the old world, in which there is an impartial "operating system layer" with lots of other food chain partners, looks as if it has been thrown out of Carl Icahn's 50th floor window.

In the post-PC world that evolved over the last decade, some companies were already there. RIM and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ - Get Report) now have their own operating systems mated exclusively to their own hardware. Apple has taken this at least three steps further, integrating the iTunes services ecosystem, the stores and marrying the old PC world with the new mobile world.

In February 2011, Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) forged a tight partnership with Nokia (NOK - Get Report), which has naturally raised suspicion by Microsoft's other licensees, such as Samsung, LG, HTC and Dell (DELL). Microsoft now has a tight control of its ecosystem, and one senses that the current degree of integration with Nokia is not the long-term equilibrium.

This left Google with a whole bunch of headaches to go along with its obvious success in shipping 550,000 Androids per day. I know this is anecdotal, but if you ask your Android friends -- especially those who are not professional geeks or techies -- as to their consumer satisfaction, perhaps you will find what I have found: Many are unhappy, and are considering switching -- mostly to Apple's iPhone and other iOS devices -- for their next upgrade.
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