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Press review: Google buys Motorola Mobility

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Update 2011-08-19: Google’s options for Motorola in light of its Android profits

The news in a nutshell:

  • Motorola recently spun off its mobile division into Motorola Mobility.
  • Google has purchased that company for $12.5 billion.
  • Probable main reason for purchasing Motorola: to get patents for defending Android against attacks.
This post will be continually updated, as I find interesting tidbits in various articles.

Links and quotes

Official announcement by Google’s Larry Page.
This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.
Another quote:
The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences. I am confident that these great experiences will create huge value for shareholders.
Pure corporate speak. What does this mean in concrete terms?

Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion on This is my next...

Motorola was alone among the major smartphone vendors in not joining Microsoft’s Windows Phone reboot and its loyalty to the Android ecosystem has now been rewarded with Google buying it whole.
Google to Acquire Motorola on Daring Fireball.
So why would Google do this? (Other than Page’s stated goal of “supercharging” the entire Android platform, of course.) Supercharging Google’s patent portfolio:
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.
Google 'Supercharging Android' with Acquisition of Motorola Mobility on Mac Rumors.
Google plans to run Motorola Mobility as a separate business and expects the transaction to close by the end of the year or early next year after appropriate approvals from Motorola Mobility shareholders and regulatory authorities.

Update: In a conference call discussing the acquisition, Google revealed that it will be acquiring 17,000 patents and an additional 7,500 filed patent applications in the deal, substantially strengthening its position in the mobile patent arms race.

Google, needing patents, buys Motorola wireless for $12.5 billion on Ars Technica.
When asked directly how the acquisition will affect other OEMs, Page said, "There's no change in how we're running Android… our partners are very excited about this." Their excitement is corroborated on a page Google created regarding the acquisition, where leaders from Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, and HTC are all quoted endorsing the purchase with eerily similar language. [Check out the page; the reactions seem very perfunctory (as in “not happy”).]

... both the company and other OEMs are focusing on the purchase as a crucial measure for Android's survival as an "open platform." ...

... Google's main openness-related concern is that successful patent lawsuits against Android could result in the company instituting licensing fees that would have to be passed on to OEMs, and then to customers.

Google cited its Nexus line of phones as an indication of past OEM agnosticism, where a different OEM each year is selected to bring a "Nexus"-branded device to the market as a flagship for each generation of the Android operating system. Samsung and HTC have both carried the Nexus banner in the past, but the new acquisition suggests Motorola may be next in line.

Rope-A-Dope, Indeed by M.G. Siegler (via Daring Fireball).
Google and Motorola were likely talking earlier about licensing agreements and/or patent buys on top of an outright acquisition. That was a last resort. But it’s one Google decided they had to pull the trigger on. Why? Because as Malik also reports, Microsoft was considering doing the same thing.
Further, Lyons’ statement that Google just “sandbagged” their rivals may be premature. Both Apple and Microsoft already have ongoing patent lawsuits against Motorola itself. These thousands of patents Google just acquired, while important, are not necessarily the full deterrent they need.
Wonder What This Means for 280 North on Daring Fireball. (Background on this topic [1].)
Motorola could use 280 North’s framework to build a WebOS-style web-centric OS — one where Cocoa developers would feel at home. Doubt that’s in the cards now.
Google and Motorola: what are all those patents for? on This is my next... Lists the effects of the Motorola purchase on all of the patent fights that Google and Motorola are currently in.

Balls on Daring Fireball

I think Motorola knew they had Google by the balls. Google needed Motorola’s patent library to defend Android as a whole, Motorola knew it, and they made Google pay and pay handsomely.

Related reading

  1. Motorola is working on its own mobile OS. [Google will probably kill this project, though.]