Monday, August 15, 2011

Morning Brief: Google buys Motorola Mobility; Obama's approval rating hits all-time low; Iraq, Afghanistan, recession – it adds up to an exhausted electorate

They are definitely in the game now: Google this morning announced that it had acquired Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in a move that not only gives the search giant a handset maker, but gives the company a patent portfolio, as well.
It also makes all those cell phone makers that are using Google's Android platform instant competitors, totally confusing the Android landscape.

"In 2008, Motorola bet big on Android as the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices," Google CEO Larry Page wrote on the company's official blog. "It was a smart bet and we’re thrilled at the success they’ve achieved so far. We believe that their mobile business is on an upward trajectory and poised for explosive growth."

According to Page, it was moves by Microsoft and Apple in the patent wars that forced the move.

"We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies."

I am wondering how Apple, which once worked closely with Motorola, but ultimately grew exhausted by the company's slow pace of innovation, feels about this move. They may be smiling this morning.

The latest Gallup poll shows that the number of Americans who approve of the President's performance in office has decreased to below 40 percent – his worst approval rating of his term. (The entire CSV file can be downloaded from Gallup here.)

The latest polling from Gallup shows that only 39 percent of Americans say that they approve of the job Obama is doing, while 54 percent now say they disapprove. The poll of 1,500 adults has a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.


George Bush's approval ratings, which were some of the lowest ever near the end of his second term, went below 40 percent consistently in 2006, and was in the 20's at the time of the Congressional elections of 2008.

With Obama's numbers so low, it is possible that Democrats will start to consider the merits of running against both their opponents and the Obama administration in the next elections, making for a confusing and sticky situation. Also, the President's polling numbers increase the likelihood that he may find himself against a primary candidate or two.

It should be remembered that Johnson chose to not run for reelection after winning the New Hampshire primary. But Eugene McCarthey's strong showing in the March 12, 1968 primary was quickly followed by Robert Kennedy declaring his candidacy. Johnson made his announcement that he would not seek a second term on March 31, 1968.

The news out of Iraq appears to be getting worse, as suicide bombings killed 57 people today. The New York Times describes the bombers as "insurgents" but I'm not sure that term really means anything anymore. Who are the insurgents? Sunnis? Saddam loyalists? Al Qaeda? All or some of the above?

It is 2011 and Iraq is still on the front pages of America's newspapers, as is Afghanistan, as is the recession. No wonder Obama's approval ratings are in the tank. Combine all that with the campaign by the White House to distance themselves from liberals and progressives, well, the question really should be who are these 39 percent of Americans who approve of the President's job performance.

The answer, I think, lies in the low ratings the opposition have. CNN's poll from last week said that only 14 percent approve of the work of the Congress – which the WaPo pointed out meant that three and half times as many Americans believe in alien kidnappings as approve of the Congress, an obviously apples and oranges comparison, but amusing nonetheless.