Android Central

Like the rest of the blogosphere, we were rubbing our eyes and drinking our morning coffee when Google announced their planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility.   Now that the furor has died down a bit, let's have a recap of the mornings events, all in one place for easy reference and discussion.  hit the break, and we'll try to ask and answer all the questions.

Who’s buying who now?

Google is purchasing Motorola Mobility, Motorola’s smartphone manufacturing business, for $12.5 billion. It’s the mobile end of the split Motorola went through last year. (The other half is Motorola Solutions.)

What's the deal worth?

Google’s paying $40 per share in cash, a premium of 63 percent on the closing price of Motorola Mobility shares on Friday, August 12, 2011.

The acquisition gives Google control of Moto’s massive patent catalog, which consists of 17,000 awarded patents, with a further 7,500 pending.

Is this deal final?

Nope.  While there is surely a "back-out" clause (with a chunk of change attached) in any preliminary agreement, Motorola is free to decline for now.  There's also the matter of government approval -- expect the usual suspects to cry foul, and claim that Google should be blocked from buying a hardware company and it's patents.  Thankfully, Apple and RIM buying the Nortel patents sets a nice precedent here.  Ultimately, it will be up to the lawyers to sort it all out, but Google certainly considered this before making the offer.

So Google will totally control Motorola phones now?

No, Motorola Mobility will be run as a separate company, and it’s highly unlikely we’ll see any major changes in direction from Moto even after the deal completes. Motorola phones will likely continue to ship with Blur, and locked bootloaders depending on carrier preferences.

Motorola’s position as a smartphone manufacturer and Open Handset Alliance member won’t change, nor will it be given preferential treatment by Google over other OEMs.

What’s this mean for Android’s other partners?

Google has made it clear that this deal is about “protecting the Android ecosystem.” This means the big G cares more about defending itself, Android and other partners against litigation than attempting to directly compete other Open Handset Alliance members (which wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense anyway).

Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson have all put out statements welcoming Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, emphasizing the deal’s importance in protecting Android and its ecosystem. Regardless of whatever private reservations they may have, all the big Android manufacturers are publicly standing behind Google and Motorola right now.

How about the Nexus phones? Will they all be Motorola now?

No, Google has made it clear that the process of selecting a manufacturer for “Nexus project” devices will not change. This means Moto is no more or less likely to have been selected as the manufacturer of the next Nexus phone as a result of this deal.

So why’s Google really buying Motorola? Is it all about the patents?

We think so. All of today’s official statements have focused on “defending” Android, “protecting” its ecosystem and enhancing competition. In today’s conference call, Google execs repeatedly expressed their desire to have Motorola Mobility run as a “separate company” with minimal interference from Google.

However, owning Motorola Mobility’s patent portfolio gives Google the ability to protect itself (and potentially other OHA members) from what it’s described as “anti-competitive threats” from the likes of Apple and Microsoft.

Does this mean the end of the patent war?

Not hardly. Importantly, though, Moto’s patent portfolio will serve to discourage future litigation or patent demands. The patent war will continue to rage for the time being, however Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility means that it (and by extension every Android manufacturer) is in a much stronger position than it was 24 hours ago.

What does this mean to other Google’s other Android ventures?

As we saw at Google I/O, Google has big plans for Android that don’t necessarily involve phone hardware.  Android@Home, where small appliances and other home equipment are controlled remotely will also benefit from engineers newly acquired from Motorola.  While the mobility division engineers may not have worked directly on them, they will have a pretty good understanding of Motorola’s many types of chips and controllers, which could be used in any hardware.  And set-top boxes like Google TV?  Check your cable box or DVR -- there’s a good chance it was made by Motorola, and if not it was built with tech licensed from a Motorola patent.

 

Reader comments

Google's purchase of Motorola - a Q&A

54 Comments

Motorola has been in the handset business a long time. Even before the iphone was a gleem in SJ's eyes. So I would "love" to see is Google to buy motorola's mobility division and sue the crap out of Apple for even making a cellular phone in the first place.

BUT then if apple never god into the cell phone business you wouldn't have android. smh at dumbass comments

also that's not how the legal system works friend.

Actually, we would, because Android was being developed at Danger before the iPhone even came out.

Competition from the iPhone did contribute to Android's quick evolution, though.

Have you seen Android before the iPhone came out? It was basically like a Blackberry. Google abruptly shifted gears as soon as the iPhone was out. Hence many of the poorly implemented features that are leftovers from the older design like needing arrow buttons on the keyboard.

just because apple pumped out this user interface first doesnt mean it would have never happened without apple. ..and besides, iconic grid of apps isnt even half of what android's UI is about.

and really?? iconic grid is original? I'v had windows PC since it's 3.1 days and Im sure iconic grid existed before that too. granted, android took many UI design points from iOS seeing that it was widely accepted, but it's not to mean we weren't already headed in that eventual direction.

are you going to tell me that a tablet was first conceived by Jobs & Co also? pay attention to the evolving tech around you. Digital Media frames, touchscreen operations on laptops, swivel screens that fold down on laptops... tablet was an inevitable tech, and a very near reality even if apple didnt jumpstart it. (have u seen the recent article of a tablet conception 17 yrs ago by Knight Rider?) & yes, it wouldnt be as popular of a tech item if it werent for apple. But that's what apple is great at, marketing high markups & making technology popular & consumable to the mass public, & admittedly they deserve respect for being capable of that type of influence. I think apple is great in providing a easy to understand UI to bridge the gap between the common person & technogeeks. the general public needs to keep up w tech or else they're going to hold back the evolution of tech without enough consumers to fund developments. .. .. but that doesnt make their products more advanced, it doesnt make their products worth the high markups.

Really? Google purchased Android Inc in 2005. I believe that was before the first iPhone if I am not mistaken.

I think we would have seen Android regardless of Apple's ventures.

Apple lovers like to believe that if Apple didn't exist (and if Steve Jobs wasn't God) that nothing of note would exist in the technology or communications industry. Wrong on all counts. This Moto purchase is good news for Android and bad news for Apple. They won't be able to sell half crippled pretty hardware with a "nice user experience" for very long without being whipped by better Android products.

It was just a comment to be funny. Besides, are you a corporate litigation lawyer?? Didn't think so friend.

Here is what I’d do if I were Google’s Board of Lords:
1st Get rid of Blur once in for all…and FOREVER!
2nd Fire Sanjay Jha.
3rd Pour more money in R&D.
4th Sue Apple for making a cellphone.
5th Sue Microsoft for the sake of sueing.

Except Google aren't patent trolls like Apple and Microsoft - they bought these patents to stay out of the courts, not march into them

i was really stoked initally when i heard the news this morning, thinking that this might mean the end of blur..but unfortunately it seems that google's acquisition of moto probably won't do much to speed blur on its way out.

blur WILL die though, it's already gone on the new phones like the bionic and photon.

Pretty sure you got that wrong, I have an atrix and it has the same interface as photon (and most likely bionic), and it's definitely filled with blur, just a bit more transparent. It's still got all the hidden crap.

Bummer! I was hoping this deal will get rid of that shitty Blur interface. Although, I still hope Google will dump that piece of shiit.

If Microsoft released Windows with a "Mac OS X" skin on it, what kind of message would that send to consumers?

I think a similar message would be sent if Google allows their own company to release a phone and force a different experience onto its users.

Actually, I think it's more like Microsoft releasing Nokia WP7s with a Symbian OS skin. But I understand what you're saying.

I think you guys are totally missing the GoogleTV/Motorola Set-top box angle on this. I think phones are a hardware red herring.

How do STBs fall under the purview of "Motorola Mobility"? I'd imagine that would still fall squarely in the domain of Motorola Solutions, which is not being bought by Google...

Let's do some math here. MMI has 3B cash, set-top box worths 2+ B, credit on tax and hard asset workths 1+ B, so Google pays about 6B for 17,000+ patents and the handset business. What a great deal!! Nortel's 6000+ patents worth 4.5B. Yet Google and the ecosystem get all the protection. If I were Apple, I would make a bid on top of that. A small price to pay, but leave Google community unprotected.

"Like the rest of the blogosphere, we were rubbing our eyes and drinking our morning coffee when Google announced their planned acquisition of Motorola Mobility... then we spent several minutes cleaning our monitors and keyboards from the coffee we spewed everywhere."

FTFY.

Good on ya, Google.

hopefully Google will force Motorola to stop using the Pentile screen...i had a droid 3 and took it back and just rooted my droid incredible instead because the screen is so much better.

I think this was a good acquisition. It would be even better if they did the following:

-Immediately install Moto Android devices as the new "Google phones." Offer a vanilla Android experience on top of great hardware and the buyers will come. Also, focus more on the end user experience and not just pumping out a new phone every 3 months.

-Take complete ownership of the market, and begin curating applications. I know this isn't a popular opinion, but I think we all can agree that Android's security problems will continue to get worse unless something is done. And who better than Google to step in?

The above would provide a huge boost to the Android brand and restore a lot of faith in it that's been lost due to fragmentation (perceived or otherwise), security, and it would have the bonus effect of putting pressure on other Android manufacturers to improve the quality of their devices (*cough* Samsung *cough*).

What about Samsung's quality. Just as good as any and better than most. The perceived lack of quality is just lack of knowledge. The phones have the best hardware available today and are super light and thin, all of which are appealing qualities to most consumers.

People who complain about the thin plastic battery cover should watch the video on youtube of the guy bending it repeatedly and then snapping it back on the phone like nothing ever happened. Method to their perceived madness. ;-)

Well, it's good that Samsung works for you but in my experience, they leave a lot to be desired. My Nexus S has gotten crappy reception from day one, and that continues even after they finally got around to pushing the "fix." Also, Android manufacturers (and Samsung is the biggest offender here) tend to release Android phones and then never update them (or take forever to do so).

Samsung's international models (the ones not hijacked by carriers) have received OS updates pretty quickly the Galaxy S 2 was the first non-Nexus phone to get Gingerbread. The non-US Galaxy S had Froyo 3+ months before the US variants. Blame the US carriers for bastardizing phones and holding up the updates.

If Google made Motorola phones "the new Google phones" then what kind of a message would that send to manufacturers like HTC and Samsung? Instead of putting pressure on them to improve their Android devices, I think this might alienate them from Google and encourage them to look to Redmond for support. This in turn could hurt Android, as it could lead to more phones running WP7 or something. This could be really chaotic.

Just speculating however. In a perfect world, what you said wouldn't have any negative repercussions, but unfortunately it probably isn't all that realistic.

Once the deal goes through, I expect Google to strip Motorola's IP portfolio from it, then turn around and sell Motorola to Huawei.

Google only wants patent protection for its interests. Motorola is a loser handset maker; a bit player on the world stage. Motorola's handset business is nothing but an inert boat anchor to Google.

Huawei is absolutely desperate to get major access to the US market and carriers. They will pay handsomely, even for a hardware maker without an IP portfolio. Google can sweeten the deal by licensing the Motorola IP to them, as part of the deal.

Once the deal goes through, I expect Google to strip Motorola's IP portfolio from it, then turn around and sell Motorola to Huawei.

That's what Jerry thinks too. But I doubt it.

First, Huawei doesn't need any part of Motorola that would be left after the patents were stripped.

Second, Google needs a house brand to show off what a pure Google Android Experience is, one that they can update OTA quickly without waiting for the other manufacturers to hang their UI into each new Android release. They have voiced concern about custom UIs in the past and this is their way of proving their point.

Third, they already have a deal in place with Best Buy (and others) to handle Nexus handsets, AS WELL AS making custom versions for all the various carriers. They can leverage this dual pipe-line to make Moto more popular.

Fourth, they can see the LTE writing on the wall, and can see that the carriers are going to be "Last Mile" providers, and everything is going to the Net. You won't need cell minutes any more, all you need is data. They can ride that wave for more money than they could ever make selling the left-overs to Huawei.

Fifth: having an in house manufacturing arm will assure Google of always having a market for Android and a test bed for it without having to give preferential treatment to one or the other of the handset makers. They will use this as the fall-back position to leverage cooperation between the Android handset alliance. None of those guys want to go back to writing their own OS. It was a huge cost.

+1,000

I can't wait to buy a Motorola phone from Google. Now instead of 1 developer phone every year, Google can release 10 times the number of devices, and eventually they will all be running a silky smooth, fast vanilla version of Android.

I would love it if my cable provider began offering boxes with "Android Inside". Moto definitely has the set top box market all but locked up and this would give providers more ways to offer more services to customers. Guess we'll see.

As far as the other OEM's go. I'll bet they have been well aware of this for as long as it has been going on. I think they probably even encouraged Google to go ahead with this as it would/could give them cheaper/free access to Moto's patents.

Protection and more innovation, this is what "should" come of this. Look forward to seeing where this will lead.

Good post. Cleared up the confusion and excitment i went through this morning :b
Although I am a little dissapointed that it wont have a direct affect on moto phones. I was thinking about how sweet a motorola nexus phone would be!
But i see it all now. Motos got 17000 pattents (more than any other oem), they utilize omap4 chips which is what google has officially announced as their chipset partner, plus motorola does have the power to single handedly destroy android.

It WILL have a direct affect on Moto phones.

All they ever said is that Moto will be run as a separate business unit. That doesn't come anywhere close to being the same thing as Business as Usual at Moto.

Those that think MotoBlur is still safe are delusional. Google has complained strongly against these add on UIs that can't be disabled. They WILL reform Moto, and there WILL be a sea change.

I don't understand why people are saying there will be no effect. Google never said anything close to that.

Hi guys , just in time to explain the whole miss
made allot of things clear now

Thanks guys , keep up the good work

In the part about the Nexus phones, do you really believe it will still be the same "fair" process? I mean c'mon lets be realistic. It's bad information like this that discredits a site.

I really don't get why everyone complains about Motorola phones and then turns around and glows about Samsung phones. I sell phones for Verizon and personally feel that the Samsung interface is horrible and needs a lot of work. All of your icons appear childish and the color scheme looks horrible. Motorola just looks more streamlined and works a lot better. How am I the only one to have made this argument for Motorola so far? I get that you can customize all of these with rooting and aftermarket launcher apps but out of the box Motorola interface is just better than Samsung hands down. I might even go a step further and say the way I see it is 1. Motorola/HTC 2. LG and 3. Samsung. Just to clear up one more thing so I don't get a lot of dumb comments on this, I am talking about stock interface and layout not hardware.

the 2.3.4 update sure was atrocious-looking on moto phones. everything was fine on 2.2 except the un-customizable dock, which they fixed, while destroying the icons and making everything really slow. even switching between homescreens on my stock atrix is glitchy and lags.

while i agree that touchwiz is ugly and cartoonish, motoblur certainly isn't top-notch itself. i'd say 1. vanilla android, 2. sense, and 3. motoblur, touchwiz and lg are all on the same level of awfulness.

I was literally in the restroom this morning, when I read this on the bgr mobile site. Nothing gets ya going in the morning like a buyout story. Yeah, I said it.

Just give me a Google-only branded phone and tablet and i'd pay $1000 for that,,,
JUST THE GOOGLE BRAND AND NOTHING ELSE!!!

This could turn out to be great for Android if a few things happened. Motorola as a brand is huge, chances are even if you hate them now, you've owner their hardware in the past. As stated above, your most likely watching TV right now thanks to Motorola. They've been pumping out nice hardware that's crippled by software most of us dislike. If anyone one of their recent/upcoming smartphones (Atrix, Photon, Bionic,etc) ran on stock Android I'd have jumped all over them. The "average" consumer refers any Android product, regardless of OEM as a DROID thanks to their vzw lineup which, without argument, single handedly put the Android OS on the map. Motos a strong company who has made poor UI decisions that have turned many, if not most of us off to their products.

Maybe with Google behind the wheel we will see a shift in their strategy. Even if left most un touched, Moto could benefit greatly from Google and Google could finally produce in house hardware. No matter how they try to spin the Nexus line, its not a Google manufactured device. A device such as BlackBerry is one that can truly say hardware and software are produced under the same umbrella. Google would have total control over its Nexus line. Even if they left Moto on their own for every other device, an actual Google built Google phone would be awesome.

Being such a diverse company with many different products, Motorola can give Google such a strong hand in the Android@Home project and with things such as Google TV. With Moto being a huge supplier of set top boxes Google could put out a Nexus line of Google tv. everything including Google TV, a Nexus tablet, the new chrome books, etc could sport the Nexus name while still leaving Motorola to produce whatever they want such as their doing now.

Bottom line, aside from expanding their patent portfolio, Google now has the power to manufacture each of their target products under the Nexus line and truly give us a Google Experience.

Maybe a company like Google (global, cash-rich, innovative, industry-leader) is slowly learning what Apple learned when Jobs killed the clones back in 98. If you really want to make your name synonymous with a specific experience at a quality level that only you will be expected to deliver, you can't rely on other companies (OEMs) to have the exact same work ethic and goal alignment. Perfectionism's a b****! I agree with many others here who think that it is naive to think Google won't change Motorola to fit more into Google's culture. If Google can force the OEMs AND the US carriers to allow owners to switch to stock android, then there's no reason why Google shouldn't have Moto adopt the Nexus project. It's a waste of time if you already have a tech lab that you can instruct.