Google will reportedly control more than 17,000 patents once it acquires Motorola Mobility — the half of the communications pioneer with the mobile phone IP.
Motorola Mobility spun off as an independent company in January this year. Google says it will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business; Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android; and Android will remain open.
In recent weeks, Google complained Apple, Microsoft, and others were unfairly attempting to wield their mobile patents against its Android operating system, which Google provides free to hardware makers such as HTC and Samsung. Pundits noted that Google’s lack of patents in the area made it vulnerable, even before a consortium that included Apple and Microsoft purchased the mobile IP developed by Nortel.
This week Google announced it’s offering $40 per share in cash, about $12.5 billion, for Motorola Mobility. The transaction was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
“We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android,” says CEO Larry Page. “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.”
If Google maintains Motorola’s smart phone hardware business, the search and software giant is entering an entirely new arena — one in which it is squarely competing with its Android partners such as HTC and Samsung.
We would hope that rather than only compete with more me-too phones, Google also innovates in outlying areas than its more broadly aimed competitors can — such as camera phones that emphasize the camera. After all, most cameras sold today are phones, and most smart phones now sold are Android devices. Photography is one area in which Google could distinguish its Android models from those of its licensees.
Android launched in November 2007, and more than 150 million Android devices from 39 manufacturers have been activated worldwide, Google says.
Motorola introduced the world’s first portable cell phone nearly 30 years ago, and in 2008, chose Android as the sole operating system for its smartphones. “Their mobile business is poised for explosive growth,” Page concludes.