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Google buys Motorola for $12.5b to fend off patent attacks

updated 08:00 am EDT, Mon August 15, 2011

Google acquires Motorola in surprise step

Google orchestrated one of the biggest upsets in the mobile industry on Monday after it bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The deal will keep Motorola as a separate business and will reportedly keep Android relatively open. Both called the deal mutual and expected it to clear in late 2011 or early 2012 if approved.

The search firm made it clear that the deal was less to get direct control of a hardware maker and more to defend itself against an increasing number of patent attacks against Android that it has cast as anti-competitive. Google owns few patents of its own and, since it was previously only giving away free OS licenses to outside companies, couldn't be directly sued for financial damage. The deal makes Motorola's patents Google's own and effectively pits Apple and Microsoft lawsuits directly against Google rather than targeting the company through proxy battles with its partners.

"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," CEO Larry Page said.

Although not stated, the move may have been spurred on by Motorola's hinted inter-Android lawsuits. The phone maker's chief Sanjay Jha had touted the strength of his company's patents and that other Android supporters might be targeted as Motorola tried to lower the cost of its phones. Google making the deal takes this possibility off the table.

From a practical standpoint, the deal could mean the end to Motorola's often-criticized customization of Android on its devices as well as a change to who makes reference Nexus phones. Although it will ostensibly be a separately-run company, Motorola will now be the official showcase for Android and will likely be pushed to run the latest, stock version of the OS on at least some if not all of its devices. It would undermine Google if its own hardware maker contributed to the fragmentation of the platform.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. OkieDoc

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +20

    Wow

    Didn't see that one coming

  1. burger

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Sep 2000

    +19

    Conflict of interest

    I wonder how this is going to sit with other smartphone providers currently deploying the Android OS.

  1. jdsonice@gmail.com

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2009

    +8

    Wow! They Kept it really quite.

    Wow - Google and Motorola kept this one really quite. Good job.

    But it changes nothing. Android is still going to be a failure in the long run.

    All this means that other smartphone manufacturers are going to start dropping Android and going to their own custom platforms. It will be business as usual.

  1. LenE

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2004

    +8

    This will help Microsoft

    This reminds me of when Pepsi bought KFC and Taco Bell. Just about every other fast food chain dropped Pepsi and flocked to Coke.

    --Len

  1. kerryb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +5

    so much for open and free

    When Android is no longer free to any phone maker on the planet due to the mess Google is in with using other's unlicensed IP they will have at least one company (Moto) to push what will be left of the platform.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. J2-Droid

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2011

    -24

    There might be hope.

    Maybe the iTroll will stop suiting now and innovate. That is what got them where they are now, not lawsuits.

  1. facebook_Charlie

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2011

    +5

    Remembering

    Apple tried with Motorola with many buttoned iPod phone. (Cultural failure)
    Microsoft tried own phone after s******* their phone partners. (PC software failure)
    Goggle is mixing both of these failed approaches. (Predict double duty failure)
    Apple is only one that seems to know that software and hardware designers need to be in same design room. (includes processor software and hardware designers)

  1. facebook_Charlie

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Aug 2011

    -1

    Remembering

    Apple tried with Motorola with many buttoned iPod phone. (Cultural failure)
    Microsoft tried own phone after s******* their phone partners. (PC software failure)
    Goggle is mixing both of these failed approaches. (Predict double duty failure)
    Apple is only one that seems to know that software and hardware designers need to be in same design room. (includes processor software and hardware designers)

  1. Zeeb

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Feb 2006

    +3

    Good Move

    Actually, other smartphone makers are fully supportive of this merger and have publicly said so. Acquiring these patents greatly defends Google's position against the patent lawsuits that Apple is bringing against them -- as they are now in a position to bring similar lawsuits against Apple.

    I don't know how anyone can rationally maintain that the dominant mobile OS (Android) is "doomed to failure"-- especially now. Hopefully, both Apple and Google/Motorola can get back to making great products and abandon these ridiculous patent conflicts.

  1. burger

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Sep 2000

    +1

    Haha

    Buying patents after infringing is by no means a get out of jail free card. lol. I would also be that if there were any patent issues between Motorola and Apple, they have long been put to rest. Which when Google purchased the company, will also be required to abide to any prior settlements or agreements.

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