Should Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility drive Microsoft to buy either Nokia or Research In Motion?
That s the question zipping around the blogosphere after Google announced it would snatch up Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The search-engine giant and the handset maker already had something of a tight relationship, as exemplified by the latter's popular line of Droid smartphones.
By making Motorola Mobility a subsidiary, Google acquires a hardware arm. That brings it in line with not only Apple, which controls both the hardware and software behind the iPhone, but also RIM and Hewlett-Packard, which do the same with their respective BlackBerry and webOS franchises.
That leaves Microsoft out in the cold -- and almost certainly searching for some sort of response. The company has already enlisted a number of manufacturing partners to create handsets running its Windows Phone. Will it take the ultimate step and purchase one of them?
Gigaom's Om Malik suggested in an Aug. 15 post that Microsoft had already extended feelers in Motorola's direction, with an eye on the handset maker's extensive portfolio. "That would have allowed it to torpedo Android even further," he wrote, alluding to Microsoft s dizzying array of lawsuits and royalty agreements launched against Android device manufacturers over the past few months.
Microsoft had also sought further leverage against Android with its $4.5 billion purchase (in conjunction with a consortium of tech companies, including Apple) of some 6,000 wireless technology patents and patent applications formerly owned by Nortel. Over the past few weeks, Google had made very public its concerns over the deal, which it insisted would be used to place Android in a legal stranglehold.
Now that Motorola Mobility s 17,000 patents (combined with 7,000 reportedly pending) give Android some air cover, Microsoft's Android-killing strategy might center on peeling away Google's hardware partners, who could be upset over Motorola's new position as favored child.
"The likes of Samsung, HTC and LG obviously don't have any other choice than to say at this point that they welcome the deal," Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst, wrote in an Aug. 15 posting on his blog. "But there's no way that they can compete with a Google-owned Motorola Mobility on a level playing field."
This article was originally published on 08-16-2011