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Google acquires Motorola Mobility: the full story

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Google's surprise decision to purchase Motorola Mobility last year has since cleared regulatory hurdles in the US and abroad, and the deal is expected to close soon. As part of the acquisition, Google will take on Motorola's deep patent portfolio and manufacturing expertise -- a move that seems to have raised eyebrows from Google's other hardware partners. Catch up on the full story below.

  • Joshua Topolsky

    Aug 18, 2011

    Joshua Topolsky

    Google and Motorola: Independence Day or Doomsday?

    Since Google made its intentions known that it would acquire Motorola's Mobility division (the arm of the company behind its smartphones and tablets) for a cool $12.5b, speculation about what the deal really means has run rampant in the tech community. Based on the announcement post Larry Page penned on Google's official blog, it was clear that there are at least a couple of reasons why the folks in Mountain View would want to have their hand in Motorola's business. The first and most obvious one being that it badly needs some of the company's patents to fend off recent attacks from small competitors like Apple, Oracle, and Microsoft.

    But that's probably not the only reason Google wants or needs Motorola — at least if you've read the tech press in the last few days, that's what you would believe. So what are the possible outcomes of this relationship? If Google only needed the patents, why did it choose to purchase the entire company instead of licensing what it wanted (as Nilay points out in this piece)? If Google desired something more, like, say, a hardware business of its own for making Android products, how can it keep things copacetic with partners like HTC, Samsung, and LG? Or is there another, more / less nefarious reason the search giant suddenly has an appetite for RAZRs and set-top boxes? After a long, hard think about what this all really means, I've arrived at only three real outcomes for this union. Want to know how they look? Read on.

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  • Chris Ziegler

    Aug 15, 2011

    Chris Ziegler

    Google buying Motorola: Nokia, Samsung, and other industry players react

    Google said this morning that it dropped its "top five" Android partners a line yesterday to let them know that this Motorola acquisition was taking place -- so naturally, many of them had prepared statements ready to go. The move will have ripple effects across several entire industries, though -- not just the Android ecosystem alone -- so we wanted to reach out and get reactions from a few companies that have a vested interest in Google's successes and failures.

    Overall, the theme across Android licensees' initial statements is unwaveringly supportive at this point. Considering that Google's primary goal is to shore up Android's shaky patent situation, that comes as little surprise -- though the striking similarity in some of the messaging suggests that Mountain View may have applied some pressure to show a unified front today. Regardless, the ball will be in Google's court going forward to make sure that these guys aren't put at a competitive disadvantage against Motorola -- a move that could drive them away from Android altogether and into alternatives like Windows Phone, as Nokia's statement seems to imply.

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  • Nilay Patel

    Aug 15, 2011

    Nilay Patel

    Google and Motorola: what are all those patents for?

    Google tried to present its $12.5b acquisition of Motorola as an opportunity to "supercharge the Android ecosystem," but it's clear that the deal was equally prompted out of desire to protect Android from further patent lawsuits using Motorola's strong patent portfolio. From all appearances, it actually seems like Google was first interested in somehow licensing or buying Motorola's patents, and then decided it would be nice to spend a little more and just buy the whole damn company. Of course, that raises the question: what's going to happen now? The smartphone landscape is awash in patent suits, most targeted at Android OEMs, and Google's clearly looking to have an impact. What's the strategy?

    All that said, it's still curious why Google spent the full $12.5b on Motorola, instead of a smaller amount acquiring the rights to Moto's patents -- or the rights to litigate with those patents. (Or even something more like the Microsoft / Nokia deal, which involved patent cross-licensing and joint development by the two companies.) It's easy to see why Google and Motorola joined forces to make the most out of Moto's patents -- but now they've got to explain how they'll make the most out of what actually matters: Motorola's products.

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  • Aug 15, 2011

    Vlad Savov

    Google to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion

    Explosive news this morning, kids. Google has agreed to purchase Motorola's recently spun-off Mobility arm for a fee of $12.5 billion. Mobility was the name given to Motorola's consumer devices unit, which includes the Droid smartphone line and the nascent Xoom tablet range, both of which rely on Google's Android software for their operating system. 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.

    For the Mountain View team, this move signals a bold and definitive step into the hardware business. Google had already flirted with the idea through the introduction of the Nexus One and Nexus S smartphones -- manufactured by HTC and Samsung, respectively -- which served as role models for what the ideal Android experience should be. The goal for the company isn't changing much now that it's taken over Motorola Mobility, with CEO Larry Page asserting that "together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem." We don't know where Motorola's skin customizations -- formerly known as Motoblur -- fit into all of this (hopefully they don't), but for now we're assured that Android as a whole will continue to operate as it has done and will remain open. Google plans to run Moto Mobility as a separate business that simply licenses the software.

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