Exclusive: Guess who else wanted to buy Motorola?


Google may not have had much of a choice when it came to buying Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. If it didn’t, someone else would have and that would have put the company in an even bigger patent hole.

Our sources say that Motorola was in acquisition talks with several parties, including Microsoft for quite some time. Microsoft was interested in acquiring Motorola’s patent portfolio that would have allowed it to torpedo Android even further. The possibility of that deal brought Google to the negotiation table, resulting in the blockbuster sale.

Motorola found a Google deal more digestible because Microsoft had no interest in running a hardware business and was essentially interested in Motorola’s vast collection of patents. Google moved aggressively, and at $40 a share, Google is now paying a 60 percent premium to Motorola’s recent stock price. The deal it struck gives it access to Motorola’s strong portfolio of 17,000 current patents and 7,500 patent applications across wireless standards and non-essential patents on wireless service delivery.

The high-level talks between Google and Motorola started about five weeks ago. Google CEO Larry Page and Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha were talking directly, and only a handful of executives were brought into discussions. Our sources suggest that Android co-founder Andy Rubin was brought into the talks only very recently.

My view is that while Google might have won the battle, in the long run it has put the Android ecosystem at risk. Mobile industry insiders view this as a ray of hope for Windows Mobile Phone 7 to sign-up the disillusioned handset makers who at this point must be reworking their mobile OS strategies.

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