Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich Positive for Motorola Mobility, Samsung, LG: Analyst

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Jefferies & Co. believes the Google Inc.'s (NASDAQ: GOOG) announcement of Android Ice Cream Sandwich is positive for Android handset original equipment manufacturers like Motorola Mobility, Samsung, and LG.

We believe the Google's announcement is positive for Android handset original equipment manufacturers (OEM) like Motorola Mobility, Samsung, and LG as it will make it much easier for app developers to have smartphone and tablet versions, leading to dramatically more Android tablet apps. The new operating system (OS) is expected in fourth quarter, said Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies.

Google announced that the next version of Android will combine the Gingerbread phone OS and Honeycomb tablet OS into one version that supports different user interfaces for different devices.

Misek said the user interface's (UI) look and feel will be based on Honeycomb's UI. Other features will be added, but Google is not announcing any yet besides face tracking and camera enhancements.

Misek said he has expected Ice Cream Sandwich to combine the phone and tablet code bases but were uncertain about its timing and if it would be open source.

Misek said Google has historically selected an OEM to create the lead device for each iteration of Android. Google's own Nexus S was the lead device for Gingerbread and Motorola Mobility's Xoom was the lead device for Honeycomb. He is unsure of the lead device for Ice Cream Sandwich but suspect it could be Samsung.

We believe Texas Instruments and its 1.5GHz OMAP4440 will be the reference design apps processor. We do not expect an official announcement, but the OMAP4440 will likely be the highlighted chip when OEMs announce second half roadmaps this summer. NVIDIA's Tegra 2 was the reference design apps processor for Honeycomb, said Misek.

Misek said Google had some nice things to say about skins (i.e., OEMs' UI customization of Android) despite chatter that they would make Android less friendly for skins. That said, Google also sounds quite enamored with its Honeycomb UI and likely will make things harder rather than easier for skin development, which would decrease OEM differentiation.

Google said that in order to rush Honeycomb to market, it did not provide a good user experience on phones and so did not release it to open source; however, Ice Cream Sandwich will be all open source (including application programming interfaces (APIs)). He said this is positive for the handset OEMs and developers.

Google also announced an open source smart home OS. Few details were revealed though one demonstration included streaming from Google's Music Beta to any supported home audio device. Misek believes this could have an interesting longer-term impact but does not expect much near-term impact.

Google stock closed Tuesday's regular trading up 0.93 percent at $542.66 on the NASDAQ Stock Market, while in the after-hours the stock declined 0.14 percent to $541.91.

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