Google to acquire patent-rich Motorola Mobility

Google has announced its intention to acquire mobile device manufacturer Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

Motorola Mobility is already a close partner to Google, having adopted its Android operating system for its Droid smartphone range and its Xoom tablets.

"Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies," said Google founder and CEO Larry Page in a statement. "Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers."

The acquisition can be seen as the latest move in the war for mobile technology patents currently unfolding in the smartphone market. Last month, Google was outbid five times over for the intellectual property assets of defunct Canadian network equipment maker Nortel by a consortium including Apple and Microsoft.

A research note published by JPMorgan last week asserted that Motorola Mobility owns 17,000 patents, compared to the 6,000 that were bought from Nortel and the 10,000 owned by Nokia.

"As I look at these patent portfolios, I feel very good that we will be able to go forward and find ways to create and enhance shareholder value for all of our shareholders," Motorola Mobility’s CEO Sanjay Jha told investment analysts recently.

Critics have argued that this patent landgrab is less about buying the right to use the patented technologies as it is about the ability to sue competitors for infringement or to burden them with royalty fees.

Google says that it will continue to operate Motorola Mobility as a separate company, and that Android will remain an "open platform" for other device makers to use.

Motorola, the US telecommunications giant, was split into two divisions, Mobility and Motorola Solutions, earlier this year following heavy losses in the mobile device market.

In the 1990s, Motorola was the global market share leader for mobile devices. It was overtaken by Nokia in 1998, however, and its global market share has since declined to just 2.1%, according to recent figures from Gartner.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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