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Google is buying Motorola's mobile division
August is normally a slow news month, but not today. Google announced Monday that it will acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion in order to "supercharge" its Android mobile operating system and build up its patent portfolio.
In a blog post championing the acquisition, Google chief Larry Page insisted the acquisition will not change Google's commitment to keeping Android open. "We will run Motorola as a separate business," he wrote. "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."
Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google, echoed those sentiments. "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," Rubin said in a statement. "We will continue to work with all of our valued Android partners to develop and distribute innovative Android-powered devices."
During a Monday morning conference call, Rubin said he spoke with the "top five Android licensees" and "they all showed very enthusiastic support for the deal."
"Android was born as an open platform," Rubin continued. "It doesn't make sense for it to be a single OEM. We want to go as wide as possible and all our partners make it what it is today."
Perhaps more important to Google's bottom line will be the acquisition of Motorola Mobility's patent portfolio. "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," Page wrote.
Earlier this month, Google accused Apple, Microsoft, and other tech giants of trying to "strangle" Android with its coordinated patent purchases and pledged to "intensely" defend its mobile OS through patent purchases of its own and opposition to what it considers anti-competitive patent bids.
Last month, a consortium of tech rivals purchased 6,000 wireless technology patents held by Nortel, which Google had said it wanted to buy. Apple, EMC, Ericsson, Microsoft, Research in Motion, and Sony joined forces to purchase the patents, which cover wireless, wireless 4G, data networking, optical, voice, Internet, service provider, semiconductors, and other patent portfolios. Microsoft and Apple also teamed up to purchase patents from Novell, along with Oracle and EMC.
Sanjay Jha, CEO of Motorola Mobility, said the company has over 17,000 issued patents worldwide, in addition to 7,500 patent applications awaiting approval.
Page also said "Motorola is also a market leader in the home devices and video solutions business. With the transition to Internet Protocol, we are excited to work together with Motorola and the industry to support our partners and cooperate with them to accelerate innovation in this space."
Page said Motorola's 2008 decision to "bet big" and make Android the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices "is one of many reasons that there is a natural fit between our two companies."
"We believe that their mobile business is on an upward trajectory and poised for explosive growth," Page wrote. "The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences."
"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," said Jha.
Google said it hopes to close the deal by the end of 2011 or early 2012, pending regulatory approval.