SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The biggest driver behind Google Inc.’s $12.5 billion deal for Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. is its vast mobile-patent portfolio, intellectual property that the search giant desperately needs.
The Android operating system, based on open-source software, is under attack by a host of patent-infringement lawsuits. Motorola MMI +56.03% has nearly 17,000 patents, according to Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, compared with Google’s GOOG -2.26% paltry position estimated at around 600 mobile patents. Read more about Google buying Motorola Mobility.
Why Google snapped up Motorola
Google looks to control more of the design for its Android devices. The deal also gives Google access to a library of patents, which can be used to protect the Android operating system, George Stahl reports.
Chowdhry said the patents Google will acquire in its Motorola deal could help its other Android partners, such as HTC Corp. TW:2498 +3.38% , which is being sued for patent infringement by Apple Inc. +1.59%
“Probably Google can use these patents to indemnify other Android partners against various IP infringements,” the analyst wrote in a note Monday. Google’s poor patent position in the smartphone market has caused some investors to worry that it could ultimately hinder Android’s fast-growing position. See earlier column on patent wars in smartphones.
The Motorola deal will also give Google a big mobile-hardware portfolio, with both phones and a tablet, and make it more like Apple, which develops the iPhone and iPad itself, as well as iTunes and the devices’ operating system.