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Google (s goog) has finally received approval from China to complete its purchase of Motorola Mobility (s mmi), Google said Saturday. That paves the way for Google to integrate Motorola, though it remains to be seen exactly how it wants to use the phone maker. The deal is expected to close in the next week.
Google made huge waves when it announced it was buying Motorola for $12.5 billion last August. After getting the U.S. Justice Department and EU approval in February, the process ground to a crawl as China took its time weighing in on the acquisition. Now, all eyes will be on how Google proceeds with its biggest purchase ever.
Android manufacturers have been nervous about Google giving Motorola an advantage. But Google may be taking some steps to try and allay those fears. The Wall Street Journal reported that Google was preparing to work with multiple manufacturers to launch the next version of Android, instead of picking one device maker. The report also said that Google would sell the devices directly through its Web site and through some unnamed retail partners. That would allow Google to take more control of the Android experience, something my colleague Kevin Tofel has urged Google to do.
While Google has been a leader with its Android smartphones, its operating system has not had as much success on tablets. The Motorola pick-up could be critical in helping improve that situation for Google, which is losing out on revenue on tablets because of the popularity of the iPad (s aapl) and Kindle Fire (s amzn), which don’t provide as much direct revenue to Google.
Google still faces a big challenge in incorporating Motorola, while still keeping its other Android partners happy. And it has also got to show that the acquisition makes sense from a financial stand point. Motorola has struggled like many other Android makers in the face of Samsung, the leading Android manufacturer. At the very least, Google gets more than 17,000 patents, which should provide some more protection in the smartphone patent wars.