Google, Motorola must capitalize on regulatory win to battle Apple’s iPad

The US Department of Justice and European Commission have okayed Google’s planned $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility. Now the two have to work together — and fast — to being Android 4.0 to Motorola’s Xoom and XyBoard and whatever other Android tablet platform that can grab some share against Apple’s iPad.

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Governmental clearance of Google’s $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility — both here and across the pond — is no doubt a big win for the open source Android operating system. But it’s no slam dunk.

Google and its new hardware device arm must get more serious in the tablet wars. Unlike Motorola’s roster of Android-based smartphones, Motorola’s Xoom tablet has competed poorly against Apple’s iPad.

And iPad 3 is getting set to debut.

Motorola won’t say exactly when Xoom will get Google’s Android 4.0 update, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich. A spokesman for Verizon confirmed that all of these devices are expected to get the update — Droid Bionic, Droid Razr, HTC Rezound, Spectrum by LG, Droid Xyboard, Motorola Xoom and Droid 4 — but he doesn’t known when.

Motorola, for its part, has said it is working to deliver the ICS upgrade for DROID RAZR and Motorola RAZR in the first half of 2012.

The Xoom? Xyboard? So far, nada news on those releases.

This is all Motorola Mobility has said:

”We are planning to upgrade DROID RAZR™ by Motorola, Motorola RAZR™, Motorola XOOM™ (including MOTOROLA XOOM™ Family Edition) and DROID BIONIC™ by Motorola to Ice Cream Sandwich. We will provide more precise guidance on timing after post-public push of Ice Cream Sandwich by Google, as well as any possible additions to this list of devices.”

Now that the US Department of Justice and European Commission have okayed the deal, Google and Motorola need to act fast.

First, Google must be careful not to stifle tablet innovation by restricting or delaying access to ANY Android 4.0 code to Motorola Mobility’s rivals. Heck, Samsung beat everyone to the punch.

That being said, ICS is a big deal and Motorola — with Google’s supercharged backing — ought to get something out the door fast. Really fast.

Young generations of users — my four-year-old included – are already adept at the iPad in a Droid heavy home. Google could lose the tablet war — and the smartphone war, for that matter — if the resulting merger slows down the Android product delivery cycle.

“Ice Cream Sandwich brings an entirely new look and feel to Android. It has a redesigned user interface with improved multi-tasking, notifications, Wi-Fi hotspot, NFC support and a full web browsing experience. With Ice Cream Sandwich, Android has been rethought and redesigned to be simple, beautiful and useful,” noted David Rothschild, a senior vice president of software and services at Motorola Mobility, which spun off from Motorola last year. “ Ice Cream Sandwich introduces innovations such as Face Unlock to unlock your phone, a Data Manager to control your network data usage, and advanced multimedia and imaging features. Ice Cream Sandwich also provides developers with new APIs, unified U.I for phones and Tablets, and improved performance by enabling developers to leverage hardware graphic acceleration.”

Great. So let’s get moving, Google and Motorola. You’ve got the platform, the patents, the legal clearance and the innovation. But don’t let the bureaucracy and legalities of a merger blow your windows of opportunity. Time could be slipping on the tablet front.

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