RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Google’s “Android” program to establish an open source suite of software for mobile content could provide a major boost for Motricity and other service providers.
At least that’s the view of an industry insider that the Skinny talked with on Wednesday.
A lot of people were wondering what Google’s long-rumored “Gphone” would be, and Monday’s announcement of Android – software, not a device – helped clear the air about where mobile content could be headed. However, there is no unanimous view on whether Android is good or bad.
Motricity is not part of the alliance of 34 companies forming the Open handset Alliance. Also absent are its top two competitors (Verisign, Amdoc/Qpass).
Why? Because they are in a sense the middle guys between the big service providers and those producing the content. It’s the insider’s view, based on discussions he’s had with others in the Motricity business space, that the Google alliance will work on the content development side.
“We look at it this way: If they can be the silver bullet for the industry and make it better for consumers and content developers, that’s great,” the insider explained.
So far at least Google and company appear not to be working in the area where Motricity and its competitors focus. Their focus is helping carrier networks deliver content to any phone and also enabling content providers to be agnostic in getting messages from text to video delivered regardless of device.
However, having a company with the clout of Google driving content solutions toward a more mobile content operating system could help bring order to a chaotic world of formats, the insider added.
Tthe insider said the Google move actually “could be good" for the middleware providers.
Motricity and its competitors are neutral n the content delivery space, he explained. And help in better coordinating the content development side could mean more customers for these neutral solutions providers.
“The Google announcement draws attention to the mobile industry in terms of addressing the need to create and to have a dominate operating system,” he explained. “Right now, [content development] is sort of like the buying experience of the mobile phone. Not only are their lots of different devices but also different operating systems, such as Apple, Palm and Microsoft. … If Google is the one to develop a de facto industry standard, hats of to them.
“It’s better for the customer and it’s a heck of a lot better for the content developer. They could focus on the content, not how to get content delivered across all operating systems that require coding be written for each one.”
Motricity and others in the middle between carriers and content providers will continue to provide solutions such as customer billing and content delivery, the insider explained. And if development of mobile content is simplified, he believes content makers will be more aggressive in the wireless space. Additional content means a potential boost in business to Motricity and others who ensure the content meets carrier specs and gets to the end user.
As for what the overall impact of the Google program will be on the rest of the business, some analysts don’t expect much. They noted the absence of AT&T, Verizon, Microsoft and Apple among others from the Google initiative. In fact, Ken Dulaney at Gartner sees danger ahead.
"On the one hand, an open platform such as Android is a good thing, because it will make applications cheap and more available, but it is bad thing because fragmentation is a serious issue with any kind of open platform," Dulaney Gartner, told Computerworld. "Google has described a scenario that is kind of loosey-goosey, which could mean that different carriers insist on different build-outs of Android. Interoperability will suffer."
So what will Android’s impact really be? Only time will tell.