After nine months of regulatory gestation, Google’s huge 12.5 billion dollar purchase of Motorola Mobility is now a done deal. Back in February, the deal was approved by the United States and earlier this week, China finally approved the deal as well. In a blog post today, Google CEO Larry Page announced that everything is official and the purchase is complete. Google is now a phone, tablet, and set-top box manufacturer.
“… I’m excited to announce today that our Motorola Mobility deal has closed,” wrote Page. “Motorola is a great American tech company that has driven the mobile revolution, with a track record of over 80 years of innovation, including the creation of the first cell phone. We all remember Motorola’s StarTAC, which at the time seemed tiny and showed the real potential of these devices. And as a company who made a big, early bet on Android, Motorola has become an incredibly valuable partner to Google.”
What happens now?
New CEO: Things aren’t staying the same at Motorola. Though Page has said that Google intends to run Motorola as a “separate business,” CEO Sanjay Jha has already stepped down and been replaced with “longtime Googler” Dennis Woodside, who has run Google’s business operations in the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Americas. Woodside will be installing other executives as well, and likely make significant changes (possibly layoffs) to Motorola’s business in order to bring it to profitability.
Google Play store: We imagine that Google will begin selling Motorola devices through its Google Play store.
No more NinjaBlur: Motorola’s custom user interface for Android is called NinjaBlur, and used to be called MotoBlur. It sucks. We hope that the new Motorola ditches this and concentrates on vanilla versions of Android.
Updates: Faster software upgrades would also be nice. Currently, Motorola is one of the slowest manufacturers to adopt Android 4.0 (ICS).
Better cross-carrier support: Currently, Motorola has a number of AT&T and Verizon handsets, but it’s mostly absent from Sprint and T-Mobile. It would be great to see it regain momentum on all carriers.
Less devices, but better: This quote comes from the press release: “Our aim is simple: to focus Motorola Mobility’s remarkable talent on fewer, bigger bets, and create wonderful devices that are used by people around the world.” It looks like Google hopes to somewhat recreate the success of Apple and Samsung’s Galaxy series by creating fewer handsets, but drawing more attention to them.
These are all relatively positive outcomes from the purchase of Motorola. Things could also go horribly wrong in many ways. Motorola is involved in a lot of patent litigation, and is facing possible product bans in the United States due to its conflict with Microsoft. There’s always a chance that Motorola might be more trouble than it’s worth.
Update 5/22/2012: Added section “Less devices, but better” after reading official Google press release.