Is Google reentering Healthcare?

In this article, InformationWeek hints that Google’s planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility may signal a return to Healthcare, and several analysts were quoted. But none of this makes sense to me. Just two months ago, Google announced the end of its popular Personal Health Records application, Google Health. Why would they do that and then get back in?

Analysts first described the Motorola acquisition as a Patents play to help protect the company from lawsuits related to its Android operating system, which has become popular in smartphones and tablets. Others think it’s a flawed strategy that wounds both Android and Google, and as a result S&P recently downgraded Google’s financial rating. But there’s more to this story.

On the side FOR Google getting back into Healthcare

  • “A Google/Motorola combination brings together two key gateway devices–home set top boxes and mobile handsets–necessary for an emerging generation of wearable sensors. In addition, there is the ability to drive application and connectivity support in handsets through Android that can support and integrate wearable wireless sensor monitoring and related online applications.” This is the view of Jonathan Collins, principal analyst covering wireless healthcare for ABI Research. In a new market research report about Wi-Fi growth in healthcare, he said Motorola Mobile was a leading Wi-Fi infrastructure vendor that stands to benefit from growth in Wi-Fi access points, software and services, a market he expects to reach $1.3 billion by 2016.
  • Irene Berlinsky, a senior research analyst for IDC, isn’t so sure, although she said, “Google now has a new ‘in’ to the healthcare industry. The question is, will it choose to pursue it.”

On the side AGAINST Google getting back into Healthcare

  • The other Android phone makers will likely feel nervous about buying critical components (the OS) from their biggest competitor. Google (Motoroogle?) is a powerful company with a new competitiv­e advantage integratin­g its OS and phone. Google can also use its Search engine to give its own products top ranking, which will surely attract antitrust complaints.
  • If developers see Google as an Andoid competitor, rather than a component supplier, then Windows 7 may be their only alternativ­­e. Apple chose NOT to open up its operating system, iOS, and encourage others to develop hardware using it. Instead, Apple has maintained tight control of the user experience­, which is what users seem to appreciate­ — as long as there are enough good apps, and there are.
  • Apple may be the biggest winner in the acquisition of Motorola Mobile. HP already saw the handwriting on the wall and this week announced that it’s abandoning the phone & tablet markets and its webOS operating system, which it got from acquiring Palm. That leaves more market share to Apple, and Google’s recent moves could drive others out of those markets too.

What do YOU think? Weigh in with a Reply below.

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2 Responses to “Is Google reentering Healthcare?”

  • Here’s another wrinkle. Motorola Mobile recently bought home automation and energy monitoring startup 4Home. 4Home enables home owners to remotely access and monitor information — from digital media to energy info, home security and health data. They also have a business working with utilities and smart meter installers on home energy management projects. And I hear that they’ve been pushing more into the healthcare side. So, this capability might help Google reenter the healthcare market should it choose to do so.

  • One more wrinkle: I heard someone speculate that maybe Google does not intend Motorola Mobile to compete in the market with its own phones and tablets. Maybe they instead want the development skills at Motorola to produce Reference Designs to teach industry how to do it right. Now that, in my opinion, makes sense. But the picture is now so cloudy that it’s hard to read Google’s intentions.

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