By the time you’re reading this, all the top tech/mobility blogs have already mentioned the fact that Motorola announced today they are buying Good Technology. If not, find a source you like and read about it: TechDirt, Engadget Mobile, BBhub, Experience Mobility, PDAstreet, CrunchGear, TreoCentral. Ok, now you are up to speed, right? Good. Or is it?
When I think about the future of mobile phones, convergence, and business functionality, I see the world playing out in two camps: serving the needs of individuals/small businesses or serving large companies’ interests. Email on mobile phones isn’t really important for the non-business community, as SMS really serves their needs just fine. Furthermore the average teenager or college kid can’t really afford a powerful smartphone (or its requisite data plan) and thats a hard sell even for their rich parents. So let’s make it a bit of a given that acquiring Good is specifically to bolster Motorola’s offerings to the business community.
So for a small business, let’s say an individual like myself (or doctor, attorney, etc) or a small startup, what kind of mobile email needs do they have? They probably do not have a dedicated Exchange server, so they have hosted POP3 accounts. Furthermore, odds are pretty good they want to save costs on infrastructure buildout, so ideally they can purchase the phone(s) they need without buying huge servers or other back-end technology. Also, they really need a solution with minimal IT requirements as they are probably handling this themselves, or have a friend or cheap consultant. Either way, my hunch is they need solutions that work out of the box with as little maintenance as possible. While I was a huge Palm fan back in the 90s, the OS has lost its way in the broadband era. This leaves RIM and Microsoft as the other players in the space. Motorola ships the Q phone, which runs Windows Mobile 5, which is an ideal solution for the above scenario. While they’ve bundled the Good application with it, it seems like one of those things that doesn’t get used very much. In my opinion, Good doesn’t seem to add value in this equation.
Next up, big businesses. Big companies have IT departments. IT departments generally prefer hassle-free solutions that are reliable and don’t break down on them, because they don’t like getting phone calls at 2am from their executives who are overseas and can’t check their email while bored in Heathrow. Again, we come down to RIM and Microsoft as two very viable solutions. With the inclusion of push-email from Windows Mobile 5, and its excellent integration with Exchange, I again fail to see a compelling value-add from Good.
Maybe I’m missing something here, but I just don’t get the reasoning for this one. It seems like an unnecessary buy by Moto. Maybe they plan to ditch WM5 as an operating system? Maybe there are some key patents? Maybe they want to prevent the technology from going elsewhere? Hopefully this won’t be one of those acquisitions that gets looked back upon as simply being Bad.