Aug 15 AT 8:14 AM Alberto Vildosola 72 Comments

Google acquires Motorola Mobility in order to protect Android from patent trolls


Is it April’s Fools Day already? No? Good, just checking. Much to our surprise, Google has just made an announcement that is sure to shake up the whole smartphone world. With the goal of protecting and supercharging the whole Android ecosystem, the Mountain View-based company has just announced on its blog that it plans to buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

The announcement was made by no other than Google’s CEO, Larry Page, which makes us believe that this move was probably his idea. The acquisition has already been approved by the board of directors on both companies, although I’m sure some governments and competitors (Apple, Microsoft) will have a thing or two to say before this is over. Google expects the whole acquisition process to end by late 2011 or early 2012.

So what does this mean for the Android ecosystem? Well for one thing, Google just acquired 17,000 patents specifically related to mobile. As a result, we can expect the whole patent lawsuits issue to end in the near future. With this many patents in hand, patent trolls won’t stand a chance against what is now one of the most powerful companies in the mobile world.

However, other issues will arise, since Google is now becoming a hardware company. Even though Google promised to keep Android open, other Android manufacturers might find this news a little discomforting. For those companies that now have doubts about supporting Android, Larry Page had this to say:

This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.Larry PageGoogle

Surprisingly, other Android OEMs are actually happy about this acquisition, said Andy Rubin during a press conference this morning. Rubin explained how he talked to some manufacturers before going ahead with the acquisition. They agreed this was the right move, probably because they’re getting smacked in the head with a ton of patent lawsuits. Now that Google owns these 17,000 patents, the company will most likely use them to defend OEMs like Samsung and HTC.

UPDATE: Google just posted on its site what OEMs think about the acquisition. Put simply, they love it.

We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.J.K. ShinPresident, Samsung, Mobile Communications Division

I welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.Bert NordbergPresident & CEO, Sony Ericsson

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

We welcome Google‘s commitment to defending Android and its partners.Jong-Seok ParkPresident & CEO, LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company

These are just some of the immediate effects this acquisition will have upon the Android world. However, I’m sure the repercussions of this announcement will be felt even years from today. At least now we know who will make the Nexus 4.

Source: Google Official Blog

Alberto is a college student living somewhere between Miami, Sarasota and the World Wide Web. Although a former iPhone owner, Alberto is now a proud Android enthusiast. You can follow Alberto on Twitter and Google+ for his thoughts unworthy of an article.

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  • T1392

    Hopefully Google takes peices of Motoblur & applies them to stock Such as the widgets & cool 3d like effects of the D3 if they can fix the little lag. Also maybe if Motorola makes Nexus Prime we can get a laptop dock but this time with Google Chrome. Hopefully unlocked bootloaders for all

    • keridel

      i heard (scuttlebut mind you) that the nexus process wont change and whoever comes up with the best idea’s will still get the nexus shot..

      so may not be motorola this year at least.

      • BiGMERF

        I doubt that move was made overnight.. Probably was made over some time.. Google may have timed all of this perfectly to unveil the New Nexus along with Ice cream on there new baby.. Motorola

      • T1392

        I totally agree with you but see no one knows who was the front runner for the next nexus and with ics being used with TI omap4 as the based chip whom Motorola has a real good relationship with & at one point moto said they would like to make a Nexus device, with the recent purchase of Moto it all seems to line up smooth, but in the end its still an opion of mine as I respect yours along with any one elses.

        • BiGMERF

          absolutely.. opinions is what drives this and other blogs.. We ll may be wrong nd the next nexus could be an LG or HTC. None of know just yet. What could end up happening is that they could go ahead on a Nexus in October (with dual core) like it has been rumored recently and then they could drop another one in Jan Feb with a quad core, this time with Motorola. Who know

          • xallies

            i would lose respect for android if they were to bring out a line of different nexus”s throughout the year.

  • keridel

    they dont even need to use the patents to defend. the fact that they have them will reduce the number of suits against them. AS LONG as they make them available to the rest of the open handset alliance.

    and given that motorola are the largest producers of set top boxes in the world should bring interesting things to google tv.

    • codesplice

      Once Google owns Moto Mobility’s patents, the Android OS should be protected by those patents. And when the OS is then licensed to OEMs, the protection afforded by those patents should go with. Now, this won’t have any effect on the custom UIs that OEMs love to throw on their devices, but at least the base should be better protected.

    • JayMonster

      Good thought, but not sure tharthe set-top box patents belong to Motorola Mobility.

  • T1392

    August 15, 2011 The day Google Changed the Smartphone game along with Motorola……again!


    Wow, Motorola just jumped from the bottom of my Device list right to the top.. Depending of course if Google will be handling everything.What a way to wake up on a Monday morning. Google just made themselves a powerhouse in the Mobile world by scooping up Motorola. I am no fan boy but wow apple must be in some serious meetings with there lawyers this morning. Trying to figure out there next strategy.. Hey apple how does it feel not to be the top dog anymore? By the way doesnt Motorola mobility also handle there set top boxes? Google TV anyone? This is getting very exiting? Can we get official word on Moto actually being the Hardware being used for the New Nexus! Taylor?!!

  • codesplice

    “At least now we know who will make the Nexus 4.”

    Eh, I wouldn’t be so sure. Though I am prepared to eat those words when the time comes!

  • Galen20K

    WOw, HOly Cripes!!

  • Nick Gray

    I think the best thing for Google to do is simply take the patents held by Motorola and let the company continue to run on its own. Android needs to have real competition in order for the platform to succeed. If the Motorola brand gets to be the new Android favorite, other manufacturers will start jumping ship, looking to WP7 and other platforms in order to establish more diversified product offerings.

    • BiGMERF

      I agree Nick… The only interest and only Device I would need per year from this acquisition , Is a Nexus. Period.

    • keridel

      i would like to think it would spur the other OEMs on, to prove they make the best devices around.

      googles aquistion doesnt chnge the fact that motorola dont make as good phones as HTC and samsung. and google putting the best android it can wont change that.

      in the uk we have a saying “you cant polish a turd”

      samsung are no1 and no2 android oems for a reason and unless google sack all of moto’s design and egineer staff that wont change.

    • Rev. Spaminator

      For the near future at least, Google will likely stick to their word. No single device manufacturer can compete with Apple’s market dominance. Right now Android is beating Apple on market share because of the diversity of suppliers using it. (Similar to how Win95 beat Macs back in the 90′s.) If Google shut out the other suppliers it would be very damaging to Android’s growth. Besides, being locked into a single supplier creates a lot of other complications for any business.

  • SparkyXI

    Sounds like someone over at Google has taken just about enough of this shit.

    Oracle: You’re next.

  • Ric

    Patents aside, does no one else see this as the perfect platform from which to merge Android and Chrome OS? I can see Atrix X with in-built chrome that launches when plugged into the laptop dock in the future…

    • Dr.Jeckyl

      As an Atrix owner I like the way you think.

  • SphericalPuma

    What I like is that we don’t have to worry about Motorola cannibalizing Android from the inside out as we thought would happen, given the comments from the other week. I guess we know who makes the next Nexus phone, lol.

  • Interpol91

    Definitely good news but patent trolls like Apple are probably thinking of some ideas to go against this acquisition. I have yet to like any phone made by Motorola but hopefully Google can change that.

  • Weeds

    Great news indeed.
    I’d love to see a whole “Pure Google…” phone section coming from Motorola. Not only a Nexus flagship device, but also entry level phones, tablets, etc..

    It will be quite interesting to see, if and how Google can use the acquired patents to protect vendors like HTC and Samsung from getting sued.

    • keridel

      tthat would be thebest way for moto to distinguish itselfi think stock android across its whole range. Mid low and high

  • DroidSamurai

    Holy sh*t! Is Christmas early for us? May be Google can now sue Apple for making a call from a “portable communication device” …

    Seriously, though, the best news that may come out of it is probably a world without MotoBlur.

    • keridel

      haha suing apple for making calls would be great!! except apple could argue the iphone cant really make calls cause it drops out all the time :D

      • The_Omega_Man

        Best comment today!

    • masterpfa

      Ha Ha
      Best comment yet!

  • Guy Bailey

    Exactly my first thoughts: “That’s the Nexus Prime manufacturer mystery solved then”

    • codesplice

      It’s a bit late in the year for this to have any impact on the Nexus 3/Prime. I think we’re still looking at (most likely) a Samsung device this go-round…

      Though didn’t one of the initial Nexus 3 leaks reference a “surprising partnership” or something to that extent? I wonder how long this has been in the works…

    • TheRoot13

      Hopefully not. Hoping for Samsung still but if it has been in the works for a while then I can see how it could be a possibility.

  • parithosh

    maybe this is why google made bogus/mildly funny bids on the nortel patents,cause they had the moto patents to fall back on.
    I hope they make apple’s life a living hell with the patents :D

  • Luck Fodsys

    Hmmm… I’m stuck in a loop:

    while(true) {
    read (headline);
    print (“Wow… really?”);
    pause (10);

    I guess it’s true, I haven’t seen anything to indicate it isn’t. That said, congratulations, Google, on your purchase of an Iron Man costume. Can’t wait to watch you kick some butt.


    Here is what Andy Rubin had to say about the Nexus

    “We have this strategy where we have this Nexus program, and we have this lead device strategy. That strategy has worked quite well to help focus the team.

    What we do is that we select each — around Christmastime of each year — we select a manufacturer that we work very closely with to release a device in that time frame. That includes, also, semiconductor companies and all of the components that go in the device.

    Essentially the teams huddle together in one building. They jointly work in these development efforts — they go on for nine to 12 months. And ultimately at the holiday season, or right before it, devices pop out that are based on this effort.

    We don’t expect that to change at all. The acquisition is going to be run as a separate business. They will be part of that bidding process, and part of that lead development process. And obviously Android remains open to other partners to use as they are today.”

    • SparkyXI

      Another point for you, good sir. :D

      • BiGMERF

        TY sparky :). But truthfully I dont know how much I believe this statement.. My mind is going nuts on me and while I believe the next Nexus may still be manufactured by Samsung (with a dual core), I am inclined to believe that maybe just maybe , spring of 2012 may bring another phone with a pure Google experience. Whether it will have the Nexus name or not who knows but I wouldnt see why not. This time made with Moto hardware and a quad core. Of course I know nothing but it seems to make sense to me..

        • SparkyXI

          You know, I think it makes a whole lot of sense, personally… Put simply, Android thrives on competition with not only iOS, but between Android OEMs as well. Killing the competition would kill Android, in a sense – and now with the acquisition of Moto and their patents, Google could do just that. I think the LAST thing they want to do is scare their competition… and it’s a relief that all the major players are onboard.

          I’ll bet you ten dollars to a doughnut that the Moto we know and love today will continue to be as such for years to come, with only a few minor tweaks.

          I think G did it for the patents, and, like I said above, I think Oracle is next. Once that happens, Google Java will run rampant.

        • keridel

          i also read that they wont have deal finalised until end of 2011 beggining of 2012 which means this years nexus will be all sown up.

          and Mr rubin said they get together the christmas before. so i dont think this has been in the works for that long.

          i’m worried the next nexus will be an lg, but hey with the way asus transformer turned out it could be someone really off the wall like asus!

  • Tangent

    “… although I’m sure some governments and competitors (Apple, Microsoft) will have a thing or two to say before this is over.”

    Apple will definitely have a valid complaint won’t it? After all, it’s completely unfair that Google – an OS developer – will now also be making hardware. What next? Some company will be the *only* source for a certain brand of OS/hardware?

    Oh, wait…

  • kerul

    This is definitely a good news for an Android lover such as me. This means that Android ecosystem is getting stronger. An Android apps developer like me would welcome this news…
    Long live Android…

  • deckrider

    Hmmm… 08/news/ patent-wars-could-motorola-kill-android-from-the-inside-out/

    “Until now, some have suggested Motorola could be Android’s saving grace. If Google were to do something crazy like, oh say, buy Motorola Mobility, then Google would have enough ammo to win this war…”

  • Ari32

    This is good news for both Google and Motorola, a complete win-win situation. Hopefully we see more stock Android phones from Motorola now.

  • deckrider
  • mase007

    its weird is that i remember reading last week post about Motorola can kill android and they also wrote ” If Google were to do
    something crazy like , oh say , buy Motorola
    Mobility , then Google would have enough
    ammo to win this war. now i woke up this morning to find out Google buy Motorola mobility. android and me really put the nail in coffin. i guess Google was also reading your post also.

  • JoogleMe

    I did not see that one coming which only heightens the surprise and thrill I have for Google! This should take the whole Nexus line into an entirely different atmosphere. Let alone all the cool mobile devices Motorola has mad thus far; they can only get better under Google’s guidance.

  • Vance

    I love when BOMBSHELLS like this just casually show up in my FB feed under my favorite blog’s standard update. I’d almost expect fireworks and confetti when I logged in!
    FINALLY after months of knowing deep down that Google knew what they were doing – but never being able to figure out what – by making a mockery of the Nortel patent bid, it all becomes clear.

    …and boom goes the dynamite.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Great move in my mind.. This is a sound business move something that will benefit android down the line. Does this mean motorola will make the next NEXUS 3 DEVICE…. NO IT DOESN’T.. Google will continue to work with all of the manufacturers as they always have this just supports android from an patient standpoint and I support that fully…

  • Nathan

    I’m just happy that Google is taking action and protecting its OEM from patent lawsuits.

  • plenumne12

    If google bought moto for patents, why buy the whole mobile company? Sounds like a waste of money if not for profit. How would they make the money back or they don’t?

    • The_Omega_Man

      Because now they own (AND CONTROL) the patents and not just the licensed use of the patents.

  • Rev. Spaminator

    I wonder if Motorola devices will start coming with unlocked bootloaders. :)

  • Kevin

    Freaking brilliant like always.

    • Kevin

      I like how you guys are faster than WSJ, since i use that to read the news in general. Haha!

  • Robot Human

    I doubt Motorola will make the Nexus 4. They have a whole team dedicated to Nexus making. I hope the go back to HTC. Anyway, I’m excited they have Motorola Mobility now. Time to buy stock. Lol.

    • keridel

      i’m hoping for a htc nexus 4 as well. i’m due an upgrade in september and was gonna go evo 3d but with all the nexus talk i might just wait…

  • Culturismo

    I Can’t care less about the hardware division of Motorola Mobility. This is all about patents. Motorola has been in wireless for 80+ years. Plus, they are being sued by Microsoft over something related to mobile.

    I have 3 words for Google: FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!

    I hope this move does not burn bridges with the other Android hardware vendors.

    What happens next? Microsoft buys Nokia?

  • MonsterSports

    I love how Google is just dominating, anyone who goes against them at this point is a fool. They are just the best and most intelligent company, who buys everyone and anything they find useful, aswell they protect companies that make phones for the Android OS.

  • Alex

    I hope the original plans for this year’s Nexus device isn’t affected by this acquisition because I was really hoping to see the next generation of Super AMOLED in the new Nexus. More thoughts here:

  • SliestDragon

    This is a BIG opportunity for Google. I can’t wait to see what they end up getting accomplished with this. :)

  • luiek20

    im so happy right now! theres no doubt apple is shitting itself as we speak!

  • thunsaker

    Google, please kill MOTOBLUR and fix everything that Motorola Screwed up with the Droid 2. That line went from being the best Android has to just an alternative for those people that still want a keyboard. A friend of mine has gone through 3 Droid 2′s, c’mon!

  • Thanasi

    Android is going to fall to their demise eventually. Google said they weren’t going to give Motorola special treatment to make the other phone manufacturers feel better, but they will give Motorola special treatment one day. When that happens, all of the other manufacturers will leave Android for WIndows Mobile and Android will fall.

  • d1292b

    Microsoft is a blood sucking company. Windows Phone is obsolete.

  • fromtime2time

    Samsung is pleased? Not from what I heard. They seem a little put off and miffed. PR compared to actual feelings always differ.

  • Blog Corner

    Go Android, go Green, go Opensource. :D