Google – Motorola deal gets green light from US and Europe

15/02/2012

Google’s $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility has been backed by regulators in Europe and the US. The European Commission ruled the deal would not raise competition issues in the market for operating systems for devices like mobile phones or tablets. Regulators in the US agreed, although both authorities vowed to monitor the company and rivals' use of patents.

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Approval from China, Taiwan and Israel is needed before the deal is completed.

Google vice-president Don Harrison said in a blog post the EU approval was an "important milestone" which moved the company closer to closing the deal.

“As we outlined in August, the combination of Google and Motorola Mobility will help supercharge Android," he said. "It will also enhance competition and offer consumers faster innovation, greater choice and wonderful user experiences."

Concerns over patents

Last month, European regulators launched an investigation into whether Samsung was using some of its key patents to hinder competitors.

Although the US Department of Justice had “significant concern” over the deal with regard to how the search giant might seek to enforce patent rights acquired from Motorola, the doubts were not enough for it to block the purchase.

Voicing similar concerns, European competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said he would “continue to keep a close eye on the behaviour of all market players in the sector, particularly the increasingly strategic use of patents”.

Google announced its intentions to buy Motorola back in August, giving the internet giant a significant technology boost to the Android platform in the increasingly competitive smartphone and tablets market.

Motorola Mobility was the mobile devices division of Motorola which was in founded 1928 and the home division. The divisions began trading as a separate independent company on January 4, 2011.

Motorola's other business, Motorola Solutions, will remain a separate company with no ties to Google.

Motorola has been committed to Android since 2008 when the company chose Android as its sole operating system for the phone maker’s smartphones. Google also sees value in other parts of Motorola's business, such as home devices and video solutions.

In addition, Google stands to gain a large number of patents with the purchase, which will aid it in the on-going litigation that Android faces.

According to Google, this purchase will not change how Android is offered as an open platform. Motorola will still be a licensee of Android, and the platform will still be open for other manufacturers to use.

Google says that the purchase will allow the two companies to "supercharge" for the "benefit of consumers, partners and developers everywhere."

The European Commission had originally intended to rule on the deal by 10 January but delayed its decision after requesting more information.

It wanted to examine whether Google might favour Motorola Mobility by making it harder for big-selling handset manufacturers, like Samsung or HTC, to use its Android operating system.

However, the commission concluded: "It is unlikely that Google would restrict the use of Android solely to Motorola, a minor player in the European Economic Area."

Read the official Google blog here

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