Make no mistake, Google's acquisition of Motorola is one of the most significant events in tech this year — the effect of which will be felt across the mobile devices landscape for some time.
In the short term, Google's purchase buys a swag of patents to protect and extend the Android OS ad its features from the litigious reach of Apple and Microsoft, amongst many others, but let's look a little further forward. Boring business wrangling aside, this acquisition will be a dream come true for tech enthusiasts eagerly waiting to play with tomorrow's tech today.
This acquisition pairs two of the most innovative companies working in consumer technology right now. Google is constantly building on its services portfolio and re-imagining the Android OS, while Motorola stays on the front foot with several first-to-market devices this year. Let's not forget the genius behind the. Sure, the LapDock fell well short in performance, but it is definitely the product that stands out in our memory as being the most exciting step forward in 2011.
So let's take a moment now to look beyond 2011, beyond 2012 even, and to what the merging of one of the world's biggest software companies and major hardware manufacturer could mean for the gadgets in your home, office, purse and pocket.
Chrome OS LapDock
If we treat this acquisition as a simple mathematical equation, then stand by for the next-generation Motorola LapDock running on the Chrome OS. Imagine plugging your Android-powered smartphone into a laptop-shaped machine and turning it into a fast, fully functional computer running Google's notebook OS.
Our major beef with the LapDock in practice was the lack of user customisation available. Basically, the LapDock experience consists of a Firefox browser, multimedia playback and some basic phone functionality. Replacing this with Chrome OS will give users a more customisable environment for users to make this system their own.
Google TV dock/set-top box
Take the LapDock concept into the living room, plug the same Atrix-esque smartphone into a TV dock and imagine the same machine booting Google TV through the dock. Now you can search for the TV show you want to watch across a variety of online sources, and you've still really only bought one pocket-sized computer.
When we first heard about Google TV, but Google's major problem has always been getting the compatible hardware into the hands of consumers. With Motorola's manufacturing manpower at its disposal, Google should be able to deliver its Google TV service packed with gaming to gamers without having to convince its other manufacturing partners to take a risk on the untested platform.
We're not just talking about yet another Angry Birds port either — expect to see a serious gaming push by Google. With all of its datacentres and banks of powerful computer servers, Google is one of the few companies in a position to roll out a streaming gaming service like the US-only OnLive service.
An OS for all occasions
So if we imagine that Google will intend to install one of its platforms in all devices currently manufactured by Motorola, then it makes sense for these platforms to be interoperable, if not identical. Will Android be the common language spoken by your phone, your TV, your PC, your whitegoods, your in-car navigation? If so, surely you'll only really need one good computer to power all of these machines. Bring on the docks!
How do you imagine this acquisition will play out? Take a crack at gazing into the crystal ball of tomorrow's tech and let us know what you see in the comments below.