Google has reportedly offered Huawei the opportunity to purchase Motorola Mobility’s hardware division. If true, the sale would almost certainly confirm suspicions the search giant was only in the acquisition for Motorola’s 17,000 patents.
Google reportedly offered the division up for a “high price,” according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited rumors coming out of Asia. Google’s $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility was only just given approval by the U.S. Department of Justice, but rumors have run rampant over the Mountain View company’s intentions. We’ve already heard reports about Google planning to sell Motorola’s TV set-top business, so this newest development isn’t all that surprising.
From the get-go, it was unclear how Google would handle the acquisition. Did the company have plans to build its own hardware and, potentially, alienate the 55 different handset makers it provides Android to in the process? Signs have pointed to no. Recent rumors suggest ASUS has been tapped manufacture the fabled Nexus tablet, not Motorola, which suggests Google isn’t playing favorites. Still, that doesn’t mean the option hasn’t crossed Google’s mind.
Google Chief Executive Larry Page admitted last week he was “excited about the opportunities” regarding the acquisition of Motorola, while Google’s mobile chief Andy Rubin previously said there will be a “firewall” between the two companies.
“The disquieting answer is that there appears to be no sense that a choice is even required,” the Wall Street Journal said. “There’s only a cocky belief that Google really can be all things at once: a hardware company with software margins, and a neutral Android arms dealer that just happens to be building its own Motorola army on the side.”
It would make sense for Google to focus on what it’s been doing well: to continue develop its mobile platform. More than 850,000 Android devices are activated each day, and for Google to decide that it will suddenly start making hardware means there’s the potential OEMs may be scared into working closer with a competing OS — say, Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. And, as the WSJ said, “The reality is that Google needs to protect the breadth of its Android base at all costs.” Any threat to that could lead to losing market share to Apple’s iPhone.
A sale of Motorola Mobility’s hardware division might be the best case scenario for Google. The company would be in possession of 17,000 patents to protect itself in court, and it would allow Google to continue focusing on Android.
“The reason to buy Motorola was to strengthen patents,” Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu said. “Now [that Google has] that, the logical thing is to sell the rest.”