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Analyst: Android, Motorola Gain from Google Acquisition

Mon, 08/22/2011 - 8:05am
Andrew Berg

Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility could mean good things for both the Android platform and Motorola, according to Ross Rubin, executive director of industry analysis for NPD Group.

According to the NPD Group, Android continued to dominate U.S. smartphone market share, accounting for 52 percent of units sold in the second quarter of 2011. Like Android, Apple's iPhone OS  experienced slight quarterly gain rising to 29 percent in Q2; however, BlackBerry OS share fell to 11 percent, as Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile and webOS held steady at less than five percent of the market each.

"Google's acquisition of Motorola shifts the balance of power in the handset-patent conflict between Google and its operating system competitors," Rubin said in a statement. "Android's momentum has made for a large pie that is attractive to Motorola's Android rivals, even if they must compete with their operating system developer."

Motorola's overall mobile phone market share declined 3 percentage points, from 12 percent in the second quarter of 2010 to 9 percent in the same quarter of 2011, according to NPD Group. The company's share of the smartphone market also declined from 15 percent to 12 percent. Motorola's year-over-year unit share of Android OS sales halved from 44 percent in Q2 of last year to 22 percent in Q2 of 2011, as Samsung and LG both experienced substantial gains.

"Much as it did in the feature phone market in the RAZR era, Motorola is experiencing increased competition from Samsung and LG in the smartphone market," Rubin said. "Closer ties to the heart of Android can help inspire new paths to differentiation."

Rubin says the move might also help Motorola in the growing prepaid market. He notes that one in five new handsets acquired in the second quarter was on a prepaid plan. In Q2 2010 just 8 percent of prepaid phones were smartphones, but in Q2 2011 that number jumped to 22 percent.

"Android is also leading the charge in the rapidly growing prepaid smartphone market," Rubin said. "This was once a key segment for Motorola that the company has an opportunity to reclaim as prepaid carriers build their smartphone portfolios."

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