Google will acquire Motorola Mobility was an unexpected chess move from the boys in Mountain View. Even if the rationale for the move was defensive and rooted in the patent wars of recent, it will have a huge impact on the consumer space of mobile phones. Essentially, I believe, that this purchase means that Motorola becomes the bastion of the untainted Android experience and lead platform in entering the market with new innovations and flavors of the OS and by doing that they will push the other manufacturers to raise stakes in the Windows Phone ecosystem, giving it the necessary boost it needed to become the third major phone OS/ecosystem.
The area of innovation for Android has already been very narrow, and manufacturers have attempted to create some form of propitiatory value with their own facades to the OS, such as the HTC Sense. I think that most consumers don't really care about them and on the other hand enthusiasts like me would prefer the stock Android experience. Google's move has made it even harder for independent handset manufacturers to stand out, as I suspect that Motorola will be rolling out the latest and greatest before them, leaving others fighting for scraps. If that happens it's far from the "defensive move" that Google seems to have the other manufacturers signed up for.
1) Play second fiddle. Follow Google/Motorola and focus on the tech-spec race, facades and heavy advertising to stand out. This is the official party line of all of them - for now. It depends on how fairly Google/Moto plays with the others and we'll see if their tolerance for favoritism fairly soon. Any sense of giving more goodies to Moto will break the alliance and shift resources away from the Google backed solution.
2) Bet on two horses. Most manufacturers have stake in Windows Phone already so shifting more resources to the third viable open platform while playing down Android's role would be easy to do. This would be an overall positive development for the Microsoft/Nokia alliance as the platform is desperately looking for some traction and the additional support might just do the trick. Nokia's stock price jumped a healthy +10% as a reaction to the Moto/Google news, so it seems that the market is believing in this scenario.
It does seem like Google just might've created a fracture into the (up-to-now) very solid Android alliance and almost accidentally made Windows Phone a viable platform. The handset makers would love to see more competition in the OS space, as that will give them more negotiating power - let's be frank, as of late, they haven't had too much it. This is why I suspect that they will go with door #2 and bet on both the horses if they can. Honestly, I think even Nokia should look into this. Pumping out an Android phone or two would be very easy with the close Linux based family heritage of Meego/Maemo and Android - and that would mean that they have all bases covered. If Windows gains traction, they could then just drop the Androids from the portfolio.
What ever happens, I'm sure the big winner will be the consumer, as all of the players will have to work hard to impress us - and there will be at least three massive operating systems and a few of smaller ones to choose from.