Aug 15 AT 1:39 PM Alberto Vildosola 46 Comments

The tech world was rocked today by Google’s announcement of its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility. Even mainstream media channels like CNN, MSNBC and CBS News covered the news. As a result we’re seeing a lot of speculation about what will now happen to Motorola and how the company fits into Google’s mobile strategy. Will the whole company be merged into Google? Will Google use Motorola to build official “Google phones?” And more importantly, will MOTOBLUR die a painful death? We’re going to try to answer some of these questions.

What will happen

Once the acquisition is approved (later this year or early 2012), there’s one thing we know will happen to Motorola for sure:  the company will continue to function just as it does now. Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha and his team will continue to lead Motorola independently from Google. Larry Page emphasized this over and over in both the blog post and conference call. “We will run Motorola as a separate business,” said Larry Page. Both companies will even have separate finance reports.

In other words, you can expect to see more of the same coming from Motorola — at least for the time being. Sadly, this means MOTOBLUR and locked bootloaders aren’t dying anytime soon. That might change in the long-term, once Google has more control over the company. But for now they’re here to stay.

Likewise, we’ll still see Motorola release some very wacky and unorthodox Android devices for a while. Yes, that means more Motorola Flipouts and Charms. Again, it’s business as usual for Motorola. The only difference is that they now have a huge company with a lot of cash backing them up.

So why would Google spend $12.5 billion to keep Motorola as a separate company? Patents, that’s why. In fact, one could even say that’s the whole reason they bought Motorola. Motorola currently owns 17,000 patents and has 7,000 more pending. That’s a lot. Compare that to the 6,000 patents Google was fighting to get from Nortel, which ended up being sold for $4.5 billion. For just $8 billion more, Google managed to get four times as many patents and a huge company to go with it.

What does that mean for Motorola? It’ll now become the sword and shield of the Android ecosystem, used by Google to fend off any troll that wants to hurt Android.

What won’t happen

Contrary to what many people are saying (myself included), this acquisition doesn’t necessarily mean Motorola will be the preferred OEM for upcoming Nexus devices. Nor will the company start to build Android phones as official Google devices. The official Google phone will continue to be the Nexus, and every manufacturer will have a chance to make one.

Google’s VP of Mobile, Andy Rubin, talked specifically about this issue during the conference call.

We have this strategy where we have this Nexus program and lead device strategy. We select, around Christmas-time each year, a manufacturer to release a phone. That includes all the components to build a device. Teams from the Android team and the manufacturer huddle together in a building and create these. We don’t expect that to change. After the acquisition Motorola will be part of that bidding process and lead dev. process. Android remains open to other partners.Andy RubinVP of Mobile at Google

Google, it seems, won’t be giving Motorola any favorable treatment. The company will still have to fight other OEMs if it wants to be chosen as the manufacturer of a Nexus device. In my opinion, Google’s decision to keep Motorola as a completely separate entity is the right choice. If Motorola were to become Google’s hardware department, companies like Samsung, HTC and LG would quickly start to look for alternatives to Android. And you can be sure that Microsoft would gladly offer them one.

In summary, who will make the the Nexus 3, Nexus 4 or Nexus Prime is still up in the air.

What could happen

There are some added benefits to owning a huge manufacturing company, it turns out. Not only do you get one of the biggest patent portfolios in the mobile world, but you also get an army of hardware engineers and manufacturing plants ready to build whatever you ask of them. For Android enthusiasts, the name Motorola might mean Droid phones and MOTOBLUR, but the company has its hands in many more pies–including set-top boxes, modems, routers, home phones and even baby monitors.

Think about how many types of devices Motorola could build under Google’s management. Phones and tablets are, as we said, out of the question. But what about those sectors where Google is having a hard time finding OEMs to build them stuff? Chrome OS and Google TV quickly come to mind. Both platforms are having a hard time getting off the ground, and as result not many companies are supporting them.

With Google now the owner of Motorola, it’s just a matter of time before we see the first Motorola-branded Google TVs and Chromebooks. But those are just the obvious things. What about official Google devices like Project Tungsten? Will we ever see Google move beyond mobile devices and into home electronics like refrigerators, microwaves and audio systems? With Motorola now under Google’s wing, the sky is the limit for the “search company.”

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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    The possibilities seem unlimited for Googe now.. Really exiting and interesting times are on the Horizon. Contrary to what Rubin says , I do believe that Motorola will at some point put out a Nexus like (not using the Nexus name) device.. It just makes to much sense. This is coming from the guy who also said that there wouldn’t be any more NEXUS phones after the first one. Of course his wording left the door open for another one , since there never was another Nexus.. LOL. So I take what he says and i giggle.

    • BiGMERF

      By the way Alberto great article and break down

      • Alberto Vildosola

        Thanks, Marv. We have a few more coming.

        • andrew

          Finally an analysis that makes sense.

          A lot of mainstream news reports were angling for the ‘conflict’ possibility of Motorola possibly competing with Google’s other hardware makers. This is hogwash.

          I really don’t understand why some folks STILL think that Google would intentionally favor Motorola over its other partners. Thats shooting itself in the foot. That would never happen.

          I think the other big news is that Google just gained access to millions of new homes by taking over Motorola’s Set Top Box business.

          Its now a matter of time when the ‘TV platform war’ begins.

          • protohamster

            The reason the tech press keeps trying to drive a wedge between Google and htc/Samsung/LG is because historically when you become vertically integrated and start competing against the OEMs that help your business – bad things usually happen.

            The last time of note that this happened in tech was the infamous 3dfx buys STB to make all their graphics cards in 1999-2001. The result was a disaster, prior to that the 3d graphics market was split equally between 3dfx and their Voodoo gpus and Nvidia with their RIVA TNT gpus (although they weren’t called gpu at the time). When 3dfx bought STB and said they were gonna build everything in house – all the remaining OEMs Creative/Diamond/Asus/Abit etc all switched to 100% nvidia hardware. Even if they say it will be fair and equal competition – its never that way in real life. With android it might be different bc of the open source – but I doubt it.

            3dfx eventually went bankrupt a few years later.

    • Jes

      I thought he just said there wouldn’t be a Nexus “2″?

    • Kevin

      I agree. Moto will not stay this purely separate entity, and will eventually pump out some amazing Google-experience phones that just won’t have the Nexus tag. HTC and Samsung are going to always have access to Android and be profitable, but Moto now has Google making sure that when they release an Android phone, that it will be what they want. There is no way Google doesn’t eventually influence most of what Moto does with Android.

  • codesplice

    All in all, a great rundown of the Googarola situation – much better than the earlier knee-jerk posting that happened across the blogosphere this morning.

    • codesplice

      While we’re at it, we should also point out that there is a difference between “Motorola” and “Motorola Mobility”. Google isn’t purchasing the entire Motorola corporation, but just the (albeit large) Mobility piece.

      • Nick Gray

        Exactly! Motorola Mobility only covers the phone product produced under the Motorola brands. Motorola split up earlier this year since the mobile side was not producing the results it was looking for. That being said, Google and Motorola Solutions (the parent company) will have close ties now and may work a few things out to get Google TV working on Motorola set top boxes – but it still comes down to Comcast, time Warner, and others to ask for such products. Motorola Solutions would have rolled out a Google TV product a long time ago if the cable and satellite companies really wanted their customers to have one.

        • AC

          Mobility also includes the set-top box unit (aka your cable tv box) … and they’re the industry leader there. While the phone aspect of this acquisition is big, don’t discount the set-top box aspect. That’s a very big potential “in” for GoogleTV.

  • Raj

    Wait, baby monitors? So we could have a Google baby monitor made by Motorola with built in google translate to translate from baby to English?


    • Dave K

      Ga ga goo gle?

      • Jes

        Cheesy, but I’m +1ing it anyway.

        • Dave K

          Come on it was clever :P

  • Marcus

    I really hope Googlerola will in time get rid of or at least improve MOTOBLOAT. I’m glad Motorola wont be the main Nexus manufacturer. Honestly, im not a fan of their build quality either. If that happens, OEMs will probably leave in fear that Motorola will become Google’s favorite.

    • codesplice

      And this is precisely why it is very important the Google allow Moto Mobility to continue to operate as an independent company. If Google starts showing excessive favoritism towards Moto, the other OEMs will take note –> competition will die out –> the OHA will be weakened –> Android will die.

      • Marcus

        Exactly my point. Google has to play smart here. Android has gone way to far just to be killed after they tried to protect themselves. That would be unfortunately ironic.

        • counsel

          Apple isn’t really hurting with no competition for their handset business, but Ithink Google’s vision isn’t as … cloudy as Steve’s…

    • Interpol91

      Google is smart enough to not risk losing the support of other manufacturers. Android was built upon various phone manufacturers coming together to offer choices and Google doesn’t want to be the one phone OS like crApple.

  • Dave K

    Everything in this article is just wild speculation.

    What Google says will happen and what actually will happen are most likely two entirely different things.

    Google is under the microscope right now with the FTC and EU for anti-competitive practices. So of course they’ll say that they’re going to take a hands-off approach with Motorola. And that Android will remain an open ecosystem. And that Motorola has to license and compete on equal footing with HTC and Samsung and LG.

    The reality is that no one knows. It’s naive to think that Google paid $12.5 billion just for patents. They could have worked out a deal with Motorola to license all of Motorola’s IP and avoided the headache of taking on a money-losing hardware manufacturer. But they didn’t, which means they probably wanted the hardware too.

    • Nick Gray

      I was thinking the same thing at first. Why would Google spend all that money just for patents? I’m sure Motorola will get some early looks at new builds of Android and that Google’s Android team will be using Motorola prototypes on a regular basis, but Google needs to keep Motorola on a very short leash. If Google does give Moto a competitive advantage over other manufacturers, it will only hurt the Android ecosystem. Samsung, HTC, SONY Ericsson, LG, and others have a long history of working with Microsoft and wouldn’t hesitate at all to move new devices onto WP7.

      • counsel

        Licensing patents doesn’t mean you can limit another company from using those patents… Google can now say… Apple sue us? Sure, but we can Sue them right back… or… apple won’t Sue us since theyneed to license OUR patents now…

  • Gabriel

    Are these products (set-top boxes, modems, routers, home phones and even baby monitors) actually developed by the acquired ” Motorola Mobility” ?

    • Alberto Vildosola

      yes they are

      • BiGMERF

        There are conflicting reports on androidandme.. Nick said it isn’t. The while I also thought it was too

  • livpalm

    Motorola will become the preferred OEM after Google buys Metro PCS.

    • BiGMERF

      Not sure if this is spam.. I but whatever

  • PaulsenDrake

    I cant wait to see the outcome!
    Just saying, Please ‘kill’ Motoblur!

    Great article!

  • 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

    Very good write up. This broke it down very nicely. Only time will tell what actually comes to pass due to this buy out.

  • DroidSamurai

    Even if the Nexus won’t automatically go to Motorola, I really hope that from now on, all Moto phones are just pure Android. There really isn’t any excuse not to do that anymore, unless Google itself doesn’t believe the standard Android UI is user-friendly enough.

    Secondly, please, PLEASE, there should be no more launches of phones running a version of Android that’s 2 releases old.

    Thirdly, having a hardware arm should make it easier for Google to execute its technological advancement. Like the NFC push … besides the Nexus, where are the NFC capable phones?

  • Steve505

    Will these patents be enough to prevent Microsoft from demanding their $10 or $15 per device fee from the Android manufacturers?

  • frankwhite44

    Luv it!!!! Go Google!!!!!!

  • Richard Yarrell

    The way I see it Google already knows what side there bread is buttered on and it wouldn’t be smart to PISS OFF the partners who have brought you to where you stand today in this landscape. HTC and SAMSUNG are without question MAJOR PLAYERS in android and Google needs both inorder to continue there climb with one or the other android DOES NOT EXIST. This makes android strong and the future much brighter I applaud that. In short as the days move forward we benefit from all of this and will see the reward of this acquisition starting today. Now Apple will see what it’s really like to innovate instead of litigation.

  • Nick M

    Im officially no longer worried about my Droid 3 recieving Ice Cream Sandwich promptly, it has a dual core TI OMAP, the official development processor of 4.0, and is now technically a google device ;) hopefully this brings great things down the road for moto and google fans alike!

  • Bex

    This is super neat! I want more Google products!

  • sylar

    Android will want to keep Samsung and all the others happy because if they don’t there goes a major chunk of the Android market and its growth will most likely drop like a rock.

  • antfelici

    finally the startac can make a comeback! lol!

  • drone3

    Great article, the only thing that isn’t clear and is baffling a lot of folk, is whether google will use moto to “supercharge” (ie – lift the standard) of android, by creating higher quality handsets with timely updates. I think its inevitable, i mean it’s a business, they have a responsibility to create and lead a better standard. Any thoughts?

  • luiek20

    im so fucking excited for the future of android! pardon my french but i cant stop thinking about all the possibilities!

  • Bnorus

    IMO I see the following:
    1/ Google will keep choosing the best partner to make the Nexus phone for developers !
    2/ Motorola will be help by Google to release us some great awesome full hardware spec phone, with better UI and unlocked.
    3/ Google will use Motorola hardware knowledge to enhanced their coming [email protected], don’t forget that Moto do land phone, router, and so on ! Think of the Android powered devices that can be released from that alliance !
    4/ Of course Google want to patent pool, maybe they will finally clean out Ice Cream Sandwich of patents mistake?
    5/ That will back Moto on tracks, and hopefully give us more #BACON to eat !

  • pekosROB

    Has anyone found a list of the most crucial Motorola patents? I cannot find any and the stories are talking about the 17,000 patents and 7-8,000 on file, but fails to mention WHAT some of those patents cover.

  • MikeStone

    Wait a minute, Motoblur is still around? I thought they got rid of it.

  • chaitali

    can please some tell me this…
    will only motorola phones support android in future.??

  • Marsh

    I really hope that Motorola DOES NOT become the next manufacture of the “Google Phone.” Motorola Devices have always been a let down to me; the Razr (original flip style) was the worse device I ever owned, yes it was one of a kind, the first thinnest flip phone, but it had so many issues. Then the Motorola Droid; What a complete piece of junk. I had 2 (replaced through warranty) that were just horrible devices..

    Samsung does a great job at manufacturing the Google Phones (Nexus) – since I left Verizon and Motorola behind, and moved to a better carrier with the Galaxy Nexus, I have yet to have any troubles out my phone.