Google acquires Motorola: Industry reaction

It's all official - Google has acquired Motorola Mobility for the sum of $12.5 billion. On what we thought would be a slow news day, the internet bohemoth unveiled the acquisition of Motorola's phone and tablet arm in a deal that it says will "supercharge" Android. 

Although the initial announcement stated that Motorola will continue as a brand in its own right, for the timebeing at least, the deal could potentially put Google in a perfect position to enhance its own-branded handset offering - a strategy that it has worked in on the past with the Nexus One (with HTC) and the Nexus S (with Samsung). But, will the acquisition mean that Google could soon be a viable rival to the likes of Apple and Samsung in the mobile phone sector? The fact that Motorola has around 17,000 patents should certainly put it in a strong position.

Pocket-lint asked the people who know - the industry insiders who have their fingers on the pulse of everything that happens in the smartphone industry. And here's what they had to say....

Matt Brian, mobile editor of TheNextWeb.com:

"The mobile industry has cried out for Google to buy a smartphone vendor for the longest time and when it did, nobody saw it coming. Motorola is an interesting choice, mainly because its smartphone sales are dwindling and sales of its tablet never really got off the ground.

"Despite press releases to the contrary, other Android smartphone vendors will be seething at the news, even though Google has said it will keep the Android ecosystem open. We could see manufacturers, Samsung and HTC in particular, aggressively pushing alternative mobile platforms (Windows Phone, maybe even Meego or WebOS?) now that Google has the potential to steal their lunch.

"Sprinkle in a potential 25,000 patents and you have not only a means to defend yourself, but also a way of effectively targeting your rivals. Google has placed so much emphasis on the patents in the press, I imagine it will actively seek to "protect" its intellectual property, opening it up to a world of smartphone-related royalties in the near future.

"As for devices, that's anyone's guess. Droids? Nexii? Google-branded phones? We will have to wait to see what both companies have planned."

Vlad Savov, contributor at thisismynext.com and soon-to-be-launched project, The Verge:

"Great value for money when set against Microsoft's $8bn splurge on Skype, but the other Android licensees can't be feeling very happy today."

Nate Lanxon, editor of Wired.co.uk:

"My first thought was to remind myself what happened last time an equally massive company in the mobile OS business bought a phone manufacturer. It was Microsoft, when it bought the company behind the Sidekick, Danger. The end result was the Microsoft Kin -- a product so crippled from the get-go I almost felt sorry for it. It was like watching a kitten being born without legs. But Google's intentions are obviously different, and are more about strengthening and supporting an existing ecosystem than starting a whole new one, and so I think at the end of the day this will be good news for consumers -- particularly in the tablet world, as Motorola has shown it's capable of at least producing a solid Android-centred iPad competitor, even if the market wasn't quite ready for it at the time."

Hannah Bouckley, editor of Recombu.com:

"Looking at it from a patent perspective, it makes sense for Google to buy Motorola  - every week there seems to be legal action or a threat of legal action.

"From a user's point of view, if working closely with Motorola from conception leads to quicker Android updates and more polished experience out of the box, that can only be a good thing. But I do wonder where it leaves manufacturers of other Android devices, such as Samsung, HTC and LG - none of whom will want to play second fiddle to Motorola, especially as Samsung and HTC have arguably had more success within the Android arena."

Michael Oryl, founder and editor-in-chief of MobileBurn.com:

With Google's purchase of Motorola, Android will now have the patent defence it needs to ensure the platform's survival.

"The big question is how autonomous Motorola Mobility will remain, and whether Google will be able to prove to Samsung, HTC, LG and other Android smartphone makers that the playing field is still level.

"We've been talking about this move for a couple of weeks, but didn't really think it would actually happen.  So far, the manufacturers seem to be calling it a good thing - at least publicly.  They all appreciate Motorola's patent strength and what that will do to protect them in the long run."

"The mobile industry has cried out for Google to buy a smartphone vendor for the longest time and when it did, nobody saw it coming. Motorola is an interesting choice, mainly because its smartphone sales are dwindling and sales of its tablet never really got off the ground."

David Phelan, gadgets editor of Time Out:

"Motorola's skill with hardware will be very useful to Google. But the best Android experience comes from HTC and the coolest handsets from Samsung, so with luck multiple companies will continue to thrive in the world of Android. More interesting is the news that Nokia shares soared on the announcement as the next possible target for takeover. Who would be the buyer? Microsoft, perhaps?"

An HTC spokesperson:

“We are supportive of Google’s acquisition of  Motorola Mobility as this is a positive development to the Android ecosystem, which we believe is beneficial to HTC’s promotion of Android phones. The partnership between HTC and Google remains strong and will not be affected by this acquisition”.

A Nokia spokesperson:

"This further reinforces our belief that opportunities for the growth of Nokia’s smartphone business will be greatest with Windows Phone. This could prove to be a massive catalyst for the Windows Phone ecosystem. Additionally, with our respective intellectual property portfolios, Nokia and Microsoft are working together to build and nurture an innovative ecosystem that benefits consumers, operators, developers and other device manufacturers."

Eric Zeman, PhoneScoop.com:

"Google's acquisition of Motorola gives it access to some 17,000 patents as well as Motorola's handset designing and manufacturing capabilities. The question is, will Google look to match Apple and RIM - both of which control the hardware and platform - with respect to vertical integration, or is it really all about patent protection?"

That's what the industry thinks about the news, but what about us?

Pocket-lint's founder and CEO, Stuart Miles, commented:

"The Google-Motorola deal is as much about Google getting access to Motorola's 17,000 patents as it is about moving from a predominately software-based company to a combined software and hardware brand.

"It means that, like Apple, it will be able to have an idea, build it, and then create the software and bring it to market without having to go outside the Google family. That alone, is a compelling reason for the deal.

"How the news will be recieved behind closed doors at companies like Samsung, LG and HTC will play out over the next couple of months. It's certainly going to be interesting."

Interesting times ahead for the mobile phone market then, but what do you think? Let us know in the comments box below.



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