After government approval from China, contingent upon Google’s agreement to keep Android “free and open” for at least five years, Motorola Mobility is now part of Google. European and US approvals happened some time ago.
The deal is worth $12.5 billion — Google’s largest acquisition by far — and includes some 17,000 patents that Google can use to defend Android against litigation and threats of litigation from Apple, Microsoft and any others who might go after it. Some have questioned whether the value of those patents justified $12 billion. Yet Google also gains a hardware business that offers intriguing potential.
Motorola currently makes mobile handsets, modems, various wireless phone accessories, wired phones, two-way radios and TV set-top boxes. There are a few other “infrastructure” products for enterprises as well. Accordingly Google is now competing with its Android handset partners. However the company has promised partners that it won’t show any favoritism to Motorola and will be even-handed with Android.
Motorola was once the top mobile OEM in the world, just a few years ago. It was replaced by Nokia, which has in turn been replaced most recently by Samsung. According to comScore, Motorola lags Samsung, LG and Apple in the US market.
There have been suggestions that Google will pretty quickly sell the TV set-top box division. What about fitness equipment and baby monitors? It probably will unload that stuff too. But being a hardware company offers Google a new canvass, if you will, and could result in some exciting new products. Google could develop interesting, new internet-access devices that aren’t phones through Motorola (i.e., Google Glasses, etc.)
We’ll see how ambitious and imaginative the company wants to be with hardware and consumer products. I hope that Google will surprise us with compelling new consumer experiences (e.g., TV UI improvements). I’m also waiting for that rumored $150 “highest quality” 7-inch Android tablet, which is probably not being built by Motorola.
Long-time Google executive Dennis Woodside now becomes the CEO of Motorola, replacing the outgoing Sanjay Jha, who ran the company before the acquisition and helped do the deal.