Shock news from Google this week: it’s selling Motorola, the smartphone firm it bought for billions, for a fraction of the price it originally paid. The lucky buyer is Lenovo, which promises to make Motorola "even more successful" and says that layoffs and cutbacks aren’t in Motorola’s future.
More expensive phones probably are in Moto’s future, though: as Gareth Beavis says: "without Google’s magic supply of money, we aren’t going to be seeing devices like the ultra-cheap Moto G any time soon." Looking on the bright side, more tablets and phablets should be on the horizon too.
Google’s acquisition of Motorola may look like a failure, says our columnist Gary Marshall, but it isn’t. "Motorola is the pawn Google’s sacrificing to save a much more important piece: all of Android," he says, noting that the news comes hot on the heels of Samsung agreeing to share patents and to stop messing around with the Android UI.
"It isn’t hard to imagine the two sides having a conversation of the ‘we’ll get out of the phone business if you stop buggering around with our OS and share some of your patents’ variety," Marshall says. By getting Samsung closer to the mothership and giving Lenovo a boost, "Android is stronger and more focused than ever before."
Is Nintendo still in the game?
Focus is something Nintendo’s trying to do too, and it’s helping its execs concentrate by slashing their salaries: president Satoru Iwata and other board members will be taking pay cuts ranging from 20% to 50% while they get the company back on track.
Profits are down 30% and sales forecasts for the quirky Wii U have been cut by more than two-thirds, and while the firm has ruled out bringing its games to smartphones it is apparently working on iOS and Android apps that complement its consoles and games.
It’s facing an uphill challenge: even Sony’s PS Vita Slim looks more like a swansong than a device that’s going to take gaming by storm in a market where the Xbox One and PS4 dominate console gaming and smartphones dominate the casual gaming market.
The answer might be in health monitoring: during this week’s strategy briefing, Iwata promised that Nintendo "will attempt to establish a new platform business [that] is independent from our video game platform business", which will "enable people to monitor their health". That doesn’t mean wearables, though, and while the platform won’t be part of Nintendo’s gaming business it will connect to the games in some fashion. Nintendo says it’ll tell us more later this year.
Good news for anybody who thinks Sky’s EPG is looking a bit dated: there’s a new one imminent, and it’ll reflect the changing way we approach TV. As Patrick Goss explains: "on-demand is brought to the fore, with Catch Up TV, TV Box Sets, Sky+ Planner and Sky Store as well as the rather necessary TV Guide." It’s due in the Spring.
Sky has also been chucking some money at programme makers. It’s signed a new deal with HBO to continue showing the US cable channel’s Emmy-hogging programmes until at least 2020, and it’s also been partnering in making new programmes. The rise of rivals from the likes of BT, not to mention Netflix, has been squeezing Sky’s profits, and the deal shows that Sky is keen to pay for exclusive content to keep its customers loyal.
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