Google: Motorola Mobility Acquisition Won't Close Off Android


Google vowed to keep its Google Android mobile operating system open to other smartphone and tablet manufacturers despite Google dropping $12.5 billion to buy key Android partner Motorola Mobility.

"We built Android as an open source platform and it will stay that way," Google CEO Larry Page said Monday during a conference call about Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility. If anything, Page said, the Motorola Mobility purchase will "supercharge the Android ecosystem."

Andy Rubin, Google's Senior Vice President of Mobile, agreed. He said he spoke to Android's top licensees and they don't fear losing their piece of the Android pie.

"Android doesn’t make sense to be a single OEM," Rubin said. "All of our existing OEM partners help make it what it is today."

The acquisition, which gives Google a built-in smartphone and tablet hardware marker, raised concerns over whether Motorola would have exclusive access to Android and if Android licensees like HTC and other device manufacturers would fall by the wayside.

According to Page, more than 150 million Android devices have been sold via more than 30 manufacturers, more than 200 carriers and in 123 countries. Page said 550,000 Google Android devices, whether smartphones or tablets, are "lit up," or activated, each day.

Motorola Mobility, which spun off of Motorola as a standalone business this year, had long struggled to find its footing in an increasingly competitive smartphone market dominated by the Apple iPhone and once by the Research In Motion (RIM) BlackBerry line. But since Motorola pledged its allegiance to Google Android and committed to launching devices on the platform in 2009, Motorola Mobility as seen a turnaround.

Adding Motorola Mobility, which will operate as a separate business under Google ownership, also gives Google an edge in the current patent disputes bubbling up in the mobility market, namely with Google squaring off against Apple, Microsoft and Oracle.

Motorola Mobility brings to the table more than 17,000 issued patents and more than 7,500 pending patents, Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha said during the conference call.

Google chief legal officer David Drummond, said that Google will continue to fight the ongoing patent war, but adding Motorola Mobility to fold gives Google the upper-hand on the patent battleground.

"We intend to protect the Android ecosystem," Drummond said, adding that it is constantly under threat from rivals and combining with Motorola will help. Drummond added: "I think that we've seen some very aggressive licensing demands in the Android ecosystem. And we think that having the patent portfolio will make sure that Android is open and vibrant, and the kind of platform that lots of companies can remain on."

Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility also vaults Google into the home business, as Motorola Mobility also handles set-top boxes and other devices. While Page said the acquisition adds "competencies that aren't core to [Google]" the move could help it capitalize on home-mobile convergence.

Jha said the convergence of mobility and the home has been brewing and Motorola's relationship with carriers and telecoms will create a big push in that direction.

"We have a very close relationship with carriers in the home space," Jha said. "There's a transition to IP set top boxes. And there's a great convergence between mobile and set top boxes and content. We'll be able to accelerate that conversion."