Google’s CFO says the next few phones from Motorola aren’t going to impress you

March 1, 2013
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Google’s Chief Financial Officer, the guy who is responsible for balancing the company’s checkbook, just told a room full of analysts at the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference that the next few phones from Motorola are going to blow. He didn’t exactly use the word “blow”, but he did say that the as yet to be announced devices will not be up to Google’s standards.

Is he insane? Slightly. When the Motorola acquisition finally went through, back in May 2012, Google had to promise to fulfill the contractual obligations that Motorola had already signed with their partners. Here’s the full quote:

“We’ve inherited 18 months of pipeline that we actually have to drain right now, while we’re actually building the next wave of innovation and product lines. We have to go through this transition. These are not easy transitions.”

Why doesn’t Google just tear up the contracts that Motorola already signed? The answer is kind of obvious if you stop and think. Who are Motorola’s largest customers? Operators. Do you really think Google wants to piss them off? Not really, because Google will need them in the future to distribute the real Motorola phones.

When are the real Motorola phones going to hit the market? Let’s do some simple math. May 2012 is when the deal closed. Add 18 months to that and you get November 2013. When does Google typically announce new Nexus phones? Around the end of the year.

We’re not implying that the next Nexus will be a Motorola phone, but it stands to reason that we’re going to see the fruits of Google’s acquisition at some point during this year.

But what about the patents, surely the CFO’s statements confirm that the Motorola purchase was purely a patent play, right? This writer is uncomfortable coming to conclusions based on disparate pieces of information that may or may not be related. We really need to see what Google’s “X Phone” is all about before saying anything concrete.

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