Google acquires Motorola Mobility

It’s finally official – Google has acquired Motorola Mobility. After almost a year of regulatory hurdles, China has rubber-stamped the purchase and closed the approval process. As previously reported by several publications, Moto CEO Sanjay Jha has stepped down in favor of former Google President of the Americas Region Dennis Woodside. Beyond that, rumors are swirling that layoffs are next considering Google’s previous history of acquisitions.

What does this purchase mean for the Voltron-esque combination of software provider and hardware manufacturer? Of course, the combination of the companies’ patent portfolios certainly strengthen their collective position in an increasingly competitive battlefield of litigation. What else is next is certainly up in the air, especially considering Google has argued that their purchase won’t create an anti-competitive marketplace for their Android OS.

Source: Google | Further reading: GigaOM

European Commission and US Department of Justice approve Google’s acquisition of Motorola

After almost six months of consideration, the European Commission and US Department of Justice have finally allowed Google’s buyout of Motorola Mobility. The $12.5 billion deal likely is more for the wireless patents that Motorola holds than the actual hardware produced, so obviously so that the language that the DOJ used to describe its analysis is heavy with reference to Moto’s history of “intellectual property disputes”:

The specific transactions at issue, however, are not likely to substantially lessen competition.  The evidence shows that Motorola Mobility has had a long and aggressive history of seeking to capitalize on its intellectual property and has been engaged in extended disputes with Apple, Microsoft and others.  As Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility is unlikely to materially alter that policy, the division concluded that transferring ownership of the patents would not substantially alter current market dynamics.  This conclusion is limited to the transfer of ownership rights and not the exercise of those transferred rights.

The transaction still cannot take place until approval comes down from China, Israel, and Taiwan, but the precedent set here is practically carved in stone. In addition to Google’s victory today, the DOJ has also approved the sale of Nortel’s 6000+ patent portfolio to a consortium of companies that include Apple, Microsoft, and RIM. At the end of the day, the patent battle will never cease but Motorola’s future within Google is still quite the mystery.

Source: Department of Justice, European Commission | Via: The Verge

Motorola promises Intel-powered devices starting in the second half of 2012

Intel’s entries into the mobile computing space have seen very little adoption and even less excitement in year’s past. Their latest mobile chipset codenamed ‘Medfield’ is supposed to break that trend, which is all the more likely now that Motorola has announced at CES that they’ll actually be producing devices using the chipset later this year. While there are no promises of exclusivity or huge marketing pushes, this news is better for Intel than the meager announcement of a Lenovo phone packing Medfield to be released in China.

Don’t get too hyped up, however, as the benchmarks that leaked late last year suggest that these products may not be truly competitive. With a release window of late 2012, manufacturers of ARM processors (Qualcomm, TI, Nvidia) will surely be yet another generation ahead – essentially meaning that Intel’s lacking power consumption figures and comparable performance to last year’s Cortex A9-based chips could boil down to significantly underperforming phones.

Keep an eye out later this year for more developing news on Motorola’s partnership with Intel.

Source: Intel | Via/Image: The Verge

Android 4.0 details and devices revealed

Since the initial unveil of Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich”, plenty of details have spilled out from manufacturers, carriers, and Google itself. With every new version of Android comes a lot of questions as to whether it’ll support older devices or certain features, so we’ll try to clear up some of that confusion here.

First, let’s start with some features that Google didn’t really spotlight in their initial unveil. Native stylus support is one of these features, building hooks into the Android API to recognize between a pen and fingertip as well as respond specifically to touches with differing pressure. This software-level integration piggybacks on initial ideas from the HTC Flyer and Samsung Galaxy Note, but still places the impetus on manufacturers to provide hardware solutions. Another feature that wasn’t well explained was the barometer in the Galaxy Nexus, which Android engineer Dan Morrill explains provides altitude readings to the GPS program to more rapidly acquire the user’s location by satellite.

Recently announced Droid RAZR

Manufacturer distribution of firmware updates to Android have been spotty in the past, but this version seems to have much more promise as far as widespread adoption is concerned. In fact, Director of Android User Experience Matias Duarte said that 4.0 “theoretically should work for any 2.3 [Gingerbread] device” The following devices are confirmed to either release with Android 4.0 or be updated in the future, though firm dating is universally ambiguous:

Finally, a list of carriers that the Galaxy Nexus has grown over the past week through leaks and directly from carriers. So far, the device should be coming to Verizon, NTT Docomo, Three UK, Vodafone, and O2 in November.
Source: Engadget

Next-generation Motorola Android devices rumored

Motorola Droid RAZR

The guys at This is my next have a solid history of reliable rumor sources, so the latest round of leaks concerning Motorola devices is not to be taken lightly. The first one revealed a smartphone codenamed Spyder, though a secondary source suggested that the device would revive aged Verizon branding through the name “Droid RAZR”. The specs don’t look too different from the recently released Droid Bionic, packing 4G LTE, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8MP camera, and Motorola’s webtop environment/peripherals. The killer spec of this new rumored phone is a 4.3″ qHD (960×540) Super AMOLED screen, which is far brighter and more power efficient than the Bionic’s LCD display and outclasses other Super AMOLED phones like the Galaxy S II series due to a higher resolution.

The last two rumors are about upcoming tablets, namely the Xoom 2 and Xoom 2 Media Edition. There aren’t many details about the latter, only that it’ll have an 8.2″ IPS display and will be meant for eBook reading and home entertainment (with a built-in IR blaster for use as a universal remote and subwoofer). The Xoom 2 looks to be a far more worthy competitor in the tablet marketplace, with a 9mm thickness (compared to the iPad 2′s 8.8mm), a better battery life compared to the original, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, and keyboard dock accessory. On the software side, the Xoom 2 will run Adobe Flash Player 11 and Netflix in HD, with some of Google’s first-run home automation software on the side.

Look for continued coverage as these rumors are put to the test and more details come out in the coming months.

Source: This is my next (Spyder/RAZR, Xoom 2, Xoom 2 Media Edition)

Google’s Eric Schmidt says Google TV to hit Europe in early 2012

When we reported last month that Logitech was seeing more retail returns of their Google TV box than sales, many people saw that as foreshadowing of Google’s possible exit from the set-top box market. Beyond that piece of news, Google had seen quite a few setbacks in the form of defensive U.S. television networks that blockaded access to their content. Despite all of this, Eric Schmidt recently spoke in Edinburgh, Scotland and shared some decidedly optimistic thoughts on the future of the platform.

He hopes for an early 2012 release of the Google TV in Europe, though he has yet to promise that U.K. broadcasters will act any differently than those in the U.S. ”We certainly have talked to [U.S. networks] about reversing their position and we certainly hope that won’t happen here [in the U.K],” he said at the Edinburgh television festival. The Executive Chairman also suggested that both Sony and Logitech would continue to operate as hardware partners for GTV in Europe, despite the retail failures they both suffered in the past.

One factor that may have tipped the scales in the favor of optimism is Google’s pending merger with Motorola Mobility, which contains Motorola’s set-top box division and may provide Google with some insight into U.S. viewing habits. Either way, the web search giant has plenty of work ahead of them to convince the European market that the Google TV is a worthy entertainment device.

Source: Reuters

Google set to acquire Motorola Mobility at $12.5 billion

The software/hardware relationship in Google’s Android ecosystem has been clear from the very beginning – Android is an open-source OS, Google makes it readily available to license to multiple OEMs, and those OEMs have the room to make whatever modifications they’d like within Google’s licensing agreement. Manufacturers enjoy a fair level of equality in this system, though Google has made some slight variations over the years to accommodate both their Nexus program and lead device strategy.

In a move that seems to disrupt that harmony, Google has announced their purchase of Motorola Mobility for a sweet $12.5 billion. If you’re not familiar with this arm of the company, Mobility is a recently created division of Motorola that handles mobile devices exclusively through their production of Android OS smartphones and tablets. With this purchase, Google joins the ranks of Apple and Microsoft in having a first-party OEM to produce devices supporting their software exclusively. It should be said that Motorola Mobility was already dedicated to a very similar plan sans the first-party status, considering the fact that they turned down development of Windows Phone 7 devices unlike their primary competitors HTC and Samsung.

It’s difficult not to wonder how this will affect the aforementioned evenhanded strategy Google has employed with manufacturing partners over the years. Google’s Senior Vice President of Mobile Andy Rubin (and one of the key minds behind the creation of Android OS) quickly moved to squash these thoughts, reassuring both the public and its partners that Motorola will function as a separate business unit from the Android software team. He went on to stress that Moto will be given no preferential treatment in the choice of lead device partners, instead being part of the same bidding process as HTC, Samsung, LG, and others to procure choice status every cycle.

Bolstered patent portfolio may help in Google vs Oracle case

The real nugget that Google was hoping to get in this transaction is Motorola’s patent portfolio. Not only does Motorola have several patents on smartphone ideas, but they have feet in the doors of networking and other similar technologies that may give them a foothold in legislation through cross-licensing. Nilay Patel of This is my next continues to do a great job explaining the patent situation and showing some major cases where Moto’s patent portfolio may play a part in possible Google legal victories. Clearly the other Android partners agree that more Google patents mean a more protected platform and investment, as their respective CEOs harmoniously made their individual statements:

Peter Chou, CEO, HTC:

We welcome the news of today’s acquisition, which demonstrates that Google is deeply committed to defending Android, its partners, and the entire ecosystem.

Bert Nordberg, President & CEO, Sony Ericsson:

I welcome Google’s commitment to defending Android and its partners.

Jong-Seok Park, President & CEO, LG:

We welcome Google’s commitment to defending Android and its partners.

J.K. Shin, President, Samsung, Mobile Communications Division:

We welcome today’s news, which demonstrates Google’s deep commitment to defending Android, its partners, and the ecosystem.

This deal will undoubtedly impact the future of all companies involved, which couldn’t be better expressed than in the words of Google’s CEO Larry Page:

There’s tremendous opportunity [at Motorola] — Android is growing like crazy, and this will benefit all our partners, including Motorola. It really allows us to supercharge the entire ecosystem. They made a great bet on Android, and that made them the leading smartphone maker. Furthermore, I’d say that they’re a leading home devices maker, and that’s a big opportunity.

If that’s not a big promise for future development, we don’t know what is.

Source: Google, This is my next, Engadget | Image: ExtremeTech