Earlier this week Google announced that it was buying Motorola Mobility for $40 per share or $12.5 Billion total.
Motorola Mobility which was previously known as the Mobile Devices division of Motorola, is a major Android hardware manufacturer with products including the popular Droid, Xoom and Atrix devices. Motorola Mobility also builds and sells a large number of TV set top boxes for digital and IP based TV. With the acquisition, Google now owns a way to control the complete Android stack from hardware to operating system, to apps. Google also now has the means to build hardware for its Google TV concept.
There is a fear that having Google create Android hardware will give it an unfair advantage over other Android hardware manufacturers such as Samsung and HTC. Google has claimed that it will operate Motorola Mobility as a separate business and that Android would remain fully open. Judging from these quotes, other Android partners are welcoming the buyout.
Does Google Really Want to Get Into Hardware?
After all of this time, does Google really want to get into the hardware business? I doubt it. The real goal of the Motorola buyout is for Google to protect Android from a patent war from competitors Apple and Microsoft. Motorola Mobility has about 14600 patents granted and 6700 pending. A large number of these patents are in the mobile field and could be used as ammo in a patent lawsuit.
With the recent acquisition by Apple and Microsoft of Nortel’s patents and the recent patent lawsuits flying around in the mobile space, I guess that Google felt the need to protect the Android ecosystem against lawsuits by providing deterrents in the form of possible counter-suits using their newly expanded patent portfolio.
I find it quite sad that this patent war has escalated to the level where tech giants have to spend their efforts suing and defending lawsuits instead of generating true technical innovations.