Tight Integration

Here’s a great piece by MG Siegler on Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobilility.
This is my favorite chunk regarding design:

Here’s another, more straight-forward scenario for you. What happens when the iPhone 5 launches and everyone wants it? That includes many people currently using Android phones. After a few months of this, Google grows frustrated that none of their OEMs can release a device that matches the build-quality that Apple puts out there. But wait, they now have their own company they can at the very least use to apply to pressure the other OEMs to force them to do better work! Does Google also not play that card? Are you really telling me that they won’t try to get Motorola to make the best products possible? Why the hell wouldn’t they? This is a business, after all.

Maybe the iPhone 5 doesn’t trigger that, but maybe the iPhone 6 does. Or maybe the iPad 3 does. Or maybe a Windows Phone does. At some point down the line, Google is going to run into this scenario. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The tight control over both hardware and software is what allows Apple products to be Apple products. And now with webOS, HP appears to be moving in the same direction.

In the same way that Google used to not care about design, but now is starting to, I suspect they’ll start to care more about full control over their products — both hardware and software. They’ll see that the overall consumer experience is tied to both — they’re not mutually exclusive. And Motorola gives them the opportunity to fully explore this. Why not use it?

It’s taken a over 30 years in the history of the personal computer for companies to catch on what Apple has been doing from Day 1 – designing their own software for their hardware products. For Apple, software and hardware are 2 sides to the same coin, and it’s a very valuable coin now.
It’s a philosophy first put into words by Alan Kay in 1982:

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

Some PC vendors have taken note on how effective Apple’s tight integration of hardware and software can be, but since we’re in the post-PC era, this integrated approach to computing isn’t happening with the personal computer – it’s happening with phones and tablets.
We have Microsoft (software) forming an alliance with Nokia for their Windows Phone 7 OS.
We have HP (hardware) acquiring Palm (software) and continuing to develop webOS for their phones and tablets.
And now we have Google (software) buying Motorola Mobility (hardware) for $12.4 billion. Yes, the patents are crucial but you can’t ignore the integration benefits Siegler mentions in the above quote.
There’s dozens of analogies to this situation, but since this is Daily Exhaust, I’ll give a car example.
Building a computer (read: laptop, smartphone, tablet) without having control over the software is like building a Formula 1 car without any say over how the engine is built. So you run into problems. Maybe the engine doesn’t fit right in the chassis. Maybe there’s controls and wires and valves you hadn’t accounted for. Maybe the engine throws off the weight distribution on your car so everything has to be reengineered. Now think for a second, that in our hypothetical race car world, every other team on the track has the very same engine and the very same (or very different) problems.
Can anyone say fragmentation?
While I’m not sure I’m advocating for every PC vendor to develop their own operating system (or if it’s even sustainable) I’m just asking, if you want to make the best computers why wouldn’t you want control over hardware and software?

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