Google’s deal to swallow up Motorola was finalised this week, with the mothership appointing a new CEO for the mobile company. But that’s not the only purchase Google has made recently, it transpired last night. It has also bought out Mike & Maaike, a design agency that dreamed up both the original G1 Android phone and the Xbox 360. And that second one’s quite exciting. Will this mean the start of a new era for Google and Motorola products?
Well, it’s got itself a proper design team with a proven track record. “Google has always been interested in hardware. The natural next step is for us to get even more serious and to really go for it,” said Motorola’s new boss Dennis Woodside. With that in mind, here are five things that Mike & Maaike could turn around for both companies with nothing but a bit of crafty design work…
1. Sexier Google TV
The Google TV boxes that hit stores when it first launched were hewn from lumps of shapeless Logitech plastic. The keyboard element of the Logitech Revue box was functional, but nothing about the whole package felt as if any real time had gone into the way the thing looked.
While select TVs now have the Google TV tech built in, there’s still a need for a revamped box in the same mold as the puck-like Apple TV. And that’s completely aside from the fact that if Apple launches a TV set of its own, Google is likely to compete on the same level. Here’s hoping Mike & Maaike get charged with designing a Google TV set with as many interesting lines as the Xbox 360.
2. Stunning Motorola phones
Motorola’s Droid phones have never really hit the right mark in terms of design. Everything from the Milestone to the Defy has struck a decent balance in terms of functionality and solidity, but there’s not been anything all that premium looking in the Moto stable since the original RAZR.
If Google’s acquisition of Motorola amounts to anything, we’d want it to be Motorola phones designed by Mike & Maaike, with Google’s Holo design ethos running inside and out. A Motorola-branded phone that really turns heads? It’s been a while.
3. A Project Glass rethink
We mentioned yesterday that there are some big problems facing Google’s Project Glass. With the sort of device that’s visible to others at all times, design is absolutely crucial. The prototype that’s been wheeled out at conferences looks too one-sided and chunky to really go unnoticed, but maybe Google’s newest property could give it some love and affection?
And it’s not just Mike & Maaike that could help out, there. Motorola’s been looking into wearable computing eyewear for a while too. Will you ever want to wear Google Glass in public? With these three companies working to the same ends, they may just make miracles happen.
4. A Nexus tablet
Oh God, please. The biggest hole in Google’s portfolio is a Nexus Tablet. Recent rumours that the company is about to launch not one, but five Nexus devices suggests that there’s a tablet coming, but the iPad’s runaway success means it can’t happen soon enough.
The thing is, it needs to be exquisite to look at. It needs to be an instant charmer. Motorola’s Xoom tablets have always have a bit of odd charm to them, but what the two really need is a design team with a proven track record. Lucky they’ve got one, then. Now all we need is to convince Google to stop working with Samsung for all things Nexus.
5. Waif-like Chromebooks
Lastly, if Google really wants to be taken at all seriously with its mad ideas about turning Chrome into a full OS, it needs to show the manufacturers that it has to convince exactly how it’s done. The Google-branded Cr-48 test notebook that Google handed out to journalists and developers at the Chrome OS launch was not exactly the most inspiring piece of hardware design in the world.
Samsung’s actually done a decent job of making Chromebooks with a hint of style, but now that Google has a real design company in its midsts, it should be able to bash out something special. Chromebooks don’t need to be crammed full of high-end spec, so there’s the chance to dream up a laptop that matches and Ultrabook or MacBook Air in terms of aesthetics.
Link: Mike & Maaike