Google this morning became a hardware company — completing its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility and promptly naming a new CEO for the company, existing Google executive Dennis Woodside.
Woodside replaces Sanjay Jha, the Motorola exec who led the mobile phone company as it became one of Android’s biggest backers.
The mantra from the new Motorola CEO will sound familiar to anyone who has been following Google over the past couple years. Woodside says in the news release announcing the completion of the deal, “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.”
That kind of focus is something that Android could benefit from in general, given the notorious fragmentation of the market. But Google will be walking a fine line, trying to show the way with Motorola without stepping on the toes of its other hardware partners.
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Woodside says, “This is a huge opportunity to really show what Android can do in a well-designed, well-packaged, and well-marketed product.”
The magazine reports that Apple CEO Tim Cook tried to hire Woodside as his head of sales, prompting Google CEO Larry Page to promise Woodside more responsibility. Woodside was previously president of Google’s Americas, and oversaw integration planning for the Motorola acquisition.
Apart from giving Google a hardware business, the Motorola acquisition gives the company a larger trove of patents to use to defend Android. One big question is how Motorola’s legal strategy will be affected by the Google acquisition. Motorola is engaged in a series of legal battles with Microsoft, for example.
The U.S. International Trade Commission last week issued a final determination preventing Motorola from importing devices that infringe on a Microsoft patent. Unless it successfully appeals, Motorola will need to remove the technology from Android devices or strike a licensing deal with Microsoft. And with the acquisition closed, that decision is now effectively in the hands of Google.