Motorola/Google: It’s All About Unified Communications

The proposed Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility announced on Monday is all about unified communications.

Well, that’s overstating it a bit. Indeed, the coverage of the $12.5 billion deal didn’t make any mention — at least that I saw — of unified communications. Instead, analysts focused on what the ownership of a phone maker by Google will mean to Android’s acceptance by Samsung, HTC, LG and other users of the mobile operating system.

Another thread of the coverage is that Google was willing to risk the ire of those handset makers because it wanted to get its hands on the treasure trove of patents owned by Motorola. There are, between awarded patents and patents pending, as many as 20,000, according to This is my next.

That’s where unified communications comes in. The bottom line is that a good number of those patents relate to unified communications and related operations and applications.

This points to the bigger picture: Any common-sense definition of unified communications includes social networking and collaboration, and it is at the root of most of the things that mobile OS and hardware makers are planning. Put more simply: Part of the big prize for which these powerful companies are vying includes unified communications, though it may come under another name.

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Constellation Research’s Elizabeth Herrell. The executive briefing over at IT Business Edge grew out of a blog she had written advising IT departments and the companies for which they work to customize communications tools for Generation Y workers (who also are called “Millennials”). These folks, Herrell wrote in her post and said to me, expect the kind of real-time platforms that they used in their college dorm and their parents’ houses (where, indeed, many probably still live).

These are the folks that Google and the others especially want to capture. The tools they are developing — and, again, where a lot of the patents not doubt are aimed — focus on unified communications and collaboration. The logical conclusion: Anyway you spin it, the Google/Motorola Mobility deal is to a great extent about unified communications.

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