Nonetheless, some analysts said that Google's primary interest in Motorola could be for the patents, some of which date to the very creation of radio communications and therefore could form a broad basis for Google to defend itself in patent disputes from Apple or others. Also, Google launched its own branded tablet in July, the Nexus 7, that is manufactured by Asustek, while Motorola makes its own Android tablets.
"If Google just wants the patents, which is of course possible, then it's just a matter of time before they let more workers go," Kagan said. But he also said that Motorola workers understand their product and if Google wants to continue such products, "it would make little sense to let the workers go."
Kagan added: "Either way, this is not the end. I see Google cutting more [Motorola jobs] as time goes by."
Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Gartner, said Monday's job cuts don't necessarily point to Google dropping workers and just keeping the patents. "We will have to wait and see about that," she said.
Certainly, she added, the job cuts would suggest a narrowing of Motorola's focus, and fewer devices with broader appeal and more importantly devices that will deliver the Google experience."
More than the hardware itself, Milanesi said Google is "about the ecosystem and enhancing the overall experience around Google services ... Making money out of the hardware is a game that only very few can succeed at nowadays."
With Samsung and Apple controlling more than half of the smartphone market, there is going to be more and more consolidation that puts pressure on Motorola and others to adjust, analysts noted.
Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said that while Google always wanted the Motorola patents, it also wanted the company's workers because of their phone expertise and engineering capabilities.
"Since Motorola's market share is falling, especially overseas, it's likely that this type of reduction would have happened regardless if Google was in charge," Gold said.
"I don't think this is the end of Motorola, but I do expect a scaled-back presence with fewer phone models and a heavy concentration on the higher end of the market," Gold said. "Just like Nokia and RIM, Motorola is being forced to concentrate on its core growth areas and not compete at the low end where it can't win."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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