The proposed buy out of Motorola Mobility by Google is surprising to say the least, but over all it’s a deft move by the internet giant, which was pushed into a corner after it lost a bid to wrest control of Nortel patents. The bid was won by a consortium led by Apple and Microsoft.
With the loss of the Nortel patents bid, Google lost more than 6,000 patents, whereas the acquisition of Motorola Mobility gives it about 17,000 in one swoop, and if the patent applications filed by Motorola manage to get through, Google will acquire about 25,000 patents, which is huge. The two companies have much to contribute in technologies such as Google TV as well.
Since Google was pushed into a corner due to its weak patent portfolio it had become almost necessary for the company to build a patent portfolio of its own.
At the same time, Google’s chief executive officer Larry Page says in a blog post, “This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. 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.”
Therefore, the patent war in the smartphone market will probably end up in a win-win situation for everybody or at least for consumers since the market will now see only innovative products.
There has been a common complaint against Google that it is not as efficient in customer service as it is in product development. With Motorola’s acquisition the complaint is likely to go away. But Google’s assertion that Motorola will not be favoured in the Nexus series is slightly difficult to implement since Google wouldn’t want to forgo its advantage of having Motorola under its wings.
The major Motorola patents include wireless communication technologies such as WCDMA (3G), GPRS, WiFi and antenna design, and key smartphone technologies including wireless email, proximity sensing, software application management, location-based services and multi-device synchronisation.
Patents related to wireless technologies are very basic in nature, which means Google will be able to defend itself easily if other companies sue it for touchscreen or gesture patents. Proximity sensing is a technique used in all touchscreen phones to avoid accidentally touching the screen while talking. This technology too will be needed by mobile companies.