A key question will be whether buying Motorola Mobility will put Android at risk. Google unequivocally allayed the concern when announcing the deal. "We built Android as an open source platform and it will stay that way," said Page in August. Google has pledged it would continue licensing Android to Motorola as if it were any other customer, without exclusivity after the merger.
In offering Android for free, while competitors Apple and Microsoft keep theirs systems exclusive or charge for licenses, Google is driving Android growth charitably and without veering far from its search business. Google's open sourcing looks very much like the spawn of a "don't be evil" -driven company that's kept consumers loyal and regulators at bay as it's become the most dominant force on the Web.
With a growing number of smartphones on Android conducting Web browsing using its cornerstone search business, Google can generate revenue in adjacent businesses even as it open sources Android. Google reported annualized mobile search revenue from Android of $2.5 billion in the third quarter. Android-bolstered mobile searches may roughly double every year through 2014, according to Goldman Sachs estimates.
Still, Google is wise to protect Android, challenged by Apple via a 2010 suit against HTC and another by Microsoft in 2011. If patent concerns were to accelerate, it could push users off of Android - as recent announcements may indicate. About the impact of potential legal disputes on Android's handset prevalence, "we believe other handset manufacturers are likely to hedge their bets and start to increase the portion of
Check Out Our Best Services for Investors
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Model portfolio
- Stocks trading below $10
- Intraday trade alerts