Last week Light Reading sat down with Sanjay Jha and Dan Moloney of Motorola Mobility to talk a bit about the Google purchase of Motorola Mobility and what it might mean for the future of Motorola’s set-top boxes and Android devices, and they released two videos.
They were very cagey in their responses, largely due to the legal issues of the pending merger and the limitations on what the two companies can do together until the merger is complete. But it certainly sounds like they’re looking at Android, probably in a form similar to Google TV, as Motorola’s new STB platform. This is exactly what I talked about in August when the merger was first announced. The buyout, or merger if you prefer, is about more than phones and patents. It seems like most of the press surrounding the merger continues to focus on just phones and patents, but Google is playing a much bigger game. Motorola only has 4% of the global smartphone market, but they’re the dominant player in the US cable STB market. Google also has SageTV, which was asked about int he videos but they declined to talk about it, and we still don’t know how it will be used. But it seems logical that it will play a role in the future of the Google TV platform and/or a related STB OS.
There are a lot questions and the answers could have a major impact on the industry. Android runs primarily on ARM core chips. Google TV launched on Intel chips, but it is moving to ARM. Cable STBs tend to use embedded chips using MIPS cores. Could Motorola STBs shift to ARM for Android? That would be a huge change for traditional STB chip vendors, and a huge opportunity for ARM vendors. A chip like a Tegra 2 or Tegra 3 would make for quite a powerful STB. Consider that today’s high end smartphones have far more processing power, graphics power, and protocol support than pretty much any cable STB on the market. And MVPDs are increasingly looking to OTT features to enhance their services and attract and retain customers.
But I’m extrapolating a bit, certainly reading into some of the things that were said, or not said, in the videos. There are a lot of interesting points in the videos. The first is primarily about the cable business and the second discusses tablets and if MSOs might start offering tablets as a part of their service, just like leasing an STB.
Here are the videos, see what you think: