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Google's Strategy: Look Like Apple

So what's Google's next move? It already has laptops that are co-branded Chromebook, selling under co-branded agreements with both Samsung and Acer. More are coming. Desktops, too.

Once Google has gobbled up Motorola, the one remaining piece on Google's chessboard to compete with Apple is the stores. Google needs to launch at least 500 to 1,000 stores in the best locations world-wide in the next three years in order to properly compete with Apple. Perhaps gobbling up Borders Books (BGP) could jump-start this, but much more than that will be needed. My bet is that Google's next big move is to launch its all-immersive retail strategy, although it may wait until the Motorola deal has closed.

What does this mean for the rest of the industry? You have three realistic players left on the chess board, and only two viable high-end operating systems:

1. RIM. Clearly the most attractive acquisition candidate, RIM continues to be very profitable and grow very fast. New products are finally launching and the company's product lineup looks to be completely revamped over the next nine months. RIM can go it alone, but is the obvious remaining acquisition candidate given its strong profitability, current and new operating systems, and strong growth in most countries around the world.

2. HP. So far, the Palm acquisition has been a disaster. Nobody is buying this stuff. If you think RIM has had problems in the recent year, the situation at HP looks a lot worse. If HP has any intention at being a player in mobile, there is only one move left on its chess board: Acquire RIM.

3. Dell. Dell has a tiny participation in mobile, with both Android and Microsoft, but if it has any ambition in this space, its only option is the same as HP: Acquire RIM.

4. Microsoft-Nokia. You can't view these two companies independently of each other anymore. The problem, though, is that they are still independent from a legal basis, leading to inevitable strategic friction. With Apple's superior execution as a vertically integrated model, and Google now taking a monumental step in that direction, this makes for further re-evaluation of the Microsoft-Nokia partnership.

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