Google to buy Motorola for $12.5bn

The Motorola Xoom 2 better be AWESOME
The Motorola Xoom 2 better be AWESOME

Google has bought Motorola Mobility, the handset development arm of the brand, for $12.5 billion (£7.5 billion).

The online search giant has purchased the handset brand for $40 per share a premium of 63% of the share price on Friday.

Google has pledged to run the operation as a separate division to Android, meaning it will still be providing the platform as an open offering.

Larry Page, CEO of Google, said, "Motorola Mobility's total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers."

Patent war

While many consumers will see the acquisition by Google as the brand wanting to streamline its reference devices (for both tablets and phones), it's pretty clear from its blog on the purchase that Google is annoyed at the strong-arm tactics of Microsoft and Apple and wants to pick up a few more assets:

"We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The US Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to 'protect competition and innovation in the open source software community' and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction," said Page.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies."

Breaking new ground

But for consumers, this will be an interesting update for the phones and tablets coming out, as Android is going to have a much more complete eco-system to work with when creating new handsets.

Andy Rubin, Senior Vice President of Mobile at Google, said, "We expect that this combination will enable us to break new ground for the Android ecosystem.

"However, our vision for Android is unchanged and Google remains firmly committed to Android as an open platform and a vibrant open source community. We will continue to work with all of our valued Android partners to develop and distribute innovative Android-powered devices."

So while Samsung and HTC will be able to keep working on the Android OS for new handsets, Motorola is going to always be one step ahead when it comes to the latest version of the platform.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2011 or early 2012, so it will be interesting to see which company gets to make the reference device for Ice Cream Sandwich.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.