Google buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion [Updated]

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Google has just announced that they're buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in an attempt to supercharge the Android platform. While the move will bring Google into the handset manufacturing business for the first time, potentially setting them up to deliver the same type of unified, integrated experience Apple is famous for, Google maintains they'll be running Motorola as a separate business. Which raises some important questions:

  1. How will the play out for other Android licensees like HTC and Samsung? (Microsoft making the Zune killed the PlaysForSure alliance.)
  2. Will all future Nexus-type devices come from Motorola going forward?
  3. Will all future Motorola phones run stock Android going forward? (no more Blur.)
  4. Is Motorola's patent portfolio strong enough to provide cover against Microsoft and Apple lawsuits?

Quotes from Larry Page and Sanjay Jha after the break.

[Google PR, Google Blog, Android Central coverage]

Larry Page, CEO of Google, said, “Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”

Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, said, “This transaction offers significant value for Motorola Mobility’s stockholders and provides compelling new opportunities for our employees, customers, and partners around the world. We have shared a productive partnership with Google to advance the Android platform, and now through this combination we will be able to do even more to innovate and deliver outstanding mobility solutions across our mobile devices and home businesses.”

Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, said, “We expect that this combination will enable us to break new ground for the Android ecosystem. However, our vision for Android is unchanged and Google remains firmly committed to Android as an open platform and a vibrant open source community. We will continue to work with all of our valued Android partners to develop and distribute innovative Android-powered devices.”

Just to remind us that Google will still be Google -- unabashedly hypocritical to the last -- Page added the following by way of the Official Google Blog:

We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. 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.

Are "anti-competitive patent attacks" worse than "anti-competitive patent violations"? Google's a big boy company now, facing regulatory scrutiny and lawsuits over their own practices, including their treatment of rival SkyHook, so how about we can the rhetoric and just make us some great new Googlerola phones, would you please?

UDPATE 1: Google's ODM partners have responded to the news... in a way that makes us suspect Google snuck into their houses late last night and replaced them all with Android-powered Replicants. [Android Central]

Peter Chou, CEO, HTC:

“We welcome the news of today‘s acquisition, which demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem.”

Bert Nordberg, President & CEO, Sony Ericsson:

“I welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.”

Jong-Seok Park, Ph.D, President & CEO, LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company:

“We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.”

J.K. Shin, President, Samsung, Mobile Communications Division:

"We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem."

Yeah, like Georgia said, "we welcome our new Motogoog overlords..."

UPDATE 2: GigaOm is reporting that Microsoft wanted to buy Motorola first, to use their patents to further sink Android, which is what brought Google to the table. [GigaOm


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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Google buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion [Updated]


I thugoht lifehacker were a bunch of fat hacker-esq nerds, not skinny hipster nerds xD Still love your stuff!

Unlike Google's participation is IntellectualVentures, this is more cover-you-ass than hypocrisy, at least so far. After losing Norvell, and according to most analysts, about to be losing InterDigital, Google needed to find a way to strengthen their defenses against likely patent problems. Not to do so would be irresponsible to the point of idiocy.
That said -- oceans of hypocrisy can come with Google's next move. Google is (was?) the only player with significant resources who might be (have been?) able to force significant reform in the patent system, and they were certainly the only one making noise for that cause. If, after reducing their own vulnerability, Google abandons that fight for reform to become just another big cross-licensing player, a la Apple, or Microsoft, or Nokia, that would be truly disappointing to those of us who want to see trolls, and a good portion of the current system, killed dead dead dead.
The more interesting question is Rene's #1 -- what does this mean for other Android partners. HTC, Sony, LG, and Samsung have all released statements praising the acquisition [link], which could mean that Google has given them behind-the-scenes assurances, or it could just be them putting lipstick on the pig. It would take an enormous amount of self-restraint not to favor Moto phones in future releases, but to show obvious favoritism could drive everybody else away, killing the ecosystem. Google's next moves with Motorola's cel division will be telling.
Another interesting question -- and one Rene did not mention -- is what does this mean for the living room in general, and Apple TV in particular? Motorola Mobility makes a lot of set top boxes. [link] Microsoft has edged into the living room with XBox and with Uverse, and Apple is making credible inroads with AppleTV. GoogleTV, however, flopped. If Google still eyes the living room as important, Motorola's STB dominance may ultimately prove as valuable to this acquisition as any wireless benefits.

Rene started the ball rolling on the Google hypocrisy talk, now lets see how long it takes for these comments to flood with them. I'm waiting for the email response from the iSteve.

Wasn't expecting that! Best of luck to all the people from Motorola working for Google now, wonder really how separate the businesses will be.

I thought so too, but the linked article suggests that the STB business is part of this deal. Of course, that author could be wrong..,

Rene really hates google...calls them hypocritical but never says that about apple...example when apple copies others for ios5 and apple sues others is major hypocritical but Rene just sees it as apple takes what works...all I am saying is all the big companies are hypocritical but you never say anything bad about apple...always try and put them in a positive light...

The biggest mistake Google could ever make is limiting all Nexus devices to Motorola. The fact that Android has multiple manufactures is the biggest selling point over iPhone/iPad. I would hate being stuck having my device prospects so empty that I would have to wait for a 5th version of a Phone worth owning. Right now on VZW there are 3 Android Phones being released very soon that have amazing specs and probably already surpass the iPhone 5.

Funny how Rene bashes Google for "patent violations" but has no issue with Microsoft and Apple trying to eliminate competition by buying all of these patents.

I had only noticed the interesting title of this article in my blog reader as I began readying it. (I read several mobile tech blogs.) Then, a little ways in, I began to realize how very biased and slanted it is. I thought, "I think I recognize this Apple-juice-drinking lack of objectivity." I scrolled to the top...sure enough, Rene Ritchie. TiPb should be concerned with its credibility with this consistent a lack of objectivity. Please can we keep it real.

Great News!Now the tleaervr those who have an iPhone they can easily solve their Language problem by using their Google Translate on their phone.It was important to do...

I dont get it, if the phone is has fatruee can I still use windows live and or yahoo messenger? I dont want to make a whole new account for this stuff .????????any1???