Languishing at 1 percent of a global phone market it helped create, Google subsidiary Motorola is planning to unveil the Moto X, a customizable phone, this summer. And to support its launch, Google is planning to spend as much as $500 million. If that doesn’t move Motorola’s dial, nothing will.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, Google could even allow its subsidiary Motorola to spend north of half a billion dollars.
Google’s Android needs no huge marketing push — it’s already winning. But Google is vulnerable to being cut out of the Android ecosystem, as Amazon demonstrated with the Kindle Fire tablet. An attack on the smartphone side with similar effect could be deadly, if Google’s best frenemy Samsung decides to follow a similar road.
Samsung, who with Intel just announced $4 million in prizes to support their Tizen mobile OS, owns the Android ecosystem and is currently capturing 95 percent of its profits.
Right now Tizen is just an ace in the pocket and a club to remind Google that its options are many, but by selling 400 million phones in 2012 and 82.2 million phones, tablets, and laptops in the first quarter of 2013, Samsung has staked a claim to potentially being more important than Google in mobile — at least in the critical last mile where the consumer lays down cash.
“Samsung is, for now, the undisputed king of the global Android smartphone industry,” Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics’ executive director, said recently. “We believe Samsung generates more revenue and profit from the Android platform than Google does.”
For Samsung, pulling an Amazon would not be impossible — I’ve talked to analysts who consider it inevitable — and it would cut Google off from massive Google Play media and apps revenue. More importantly, perhaps, it would sever Google’s tight relationship with mobile users.
The upshot of all that is that Google needs to be more front and center in the hands of consumers, something that its well-received but not huge-selling Nexus line has failed to achieve, simply to counterbalance Samsung’s enormous device-based power.
Thus: an interesting new phone from Moto … and a massive marketing budget, with which Google will attempt to change the mobile landscape once again. And protect itself from its friends.
Apple must be enjoying the show.