Google’s acquisition of Motorola’s Mobility division this week was an incredibly shrewd landgrab for the future.
The move not only ensures Google has the heavyweight patent protection that can safeguard its expansion plans for its Android operating system, but also enables Google to compete in yet another new sector. For while Google has previously made handsets on a small scale, this new large-scale capability to manufacture smartphones and tablets potentially delivers a new set of problems for the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC and so on.
No matter that these brands have played their parts in making Android the fastest growing operating system on the planet by adopting the open source system on their mobile devices.
Now they may find themselves going up in the market against the owner of Android as Google seeks to establish itself as a manufacturer of desirable hardware as well as a purveyor of software that aims to establish a foothold against Apple and others.
If you look around at the landscape shaped by Google’s recent innovation programmes and acquisitions, you’ll see that it competes in a far broader range of sectors than any of its growing number of rivals. In addition to internet search, mobile hardware and software, Google owns the web’s largest video portal in YouTube, a small but growing foothold in social media in Google+ and a developing music service that admittedly needs a little more work before it troubles Apple’s iTunes.
Google’s ability to meaningfully stretch its brand into more and more parts of our lives is one that many of the larger consumer brands share.
Coca-Cola is looking to establish its music brand as a serious competitor to iTunes and MySpace. When in Atlanta recently, I listened to Coke CMO Joseph Tripodi describe music as one of five key drivers of community interaction that the soft drinks giant is relying on to grow revenue in the next decade. Music will become as important to Coca-Cola as its partnerships with FIFA and the Olympics, according to the brand’s execs.
These kind of shifts, where brands extend their empires into new areas of activity and find new growth markets to exploit will only continue as digital technology evolves and the demand for trusted product and service providers increases.
Look no further for proof than O2’s now established move into leisure, financial services, healthcare and education. This was never about O2 identifying itself as a mobile company but as a service to customers.
Marketers should be at the heart of this evolution as the customer expert within our organisations. The strength of trust in a brand and the necessary data investment that allow the authentic stretching of a business into a new sector or category is the work of the far-seeing, strategic senior marketer.