Motorola Nexus? No, that purchase was “mostly about the patents”

by: Chris SmithNovember 3, 2012

Answering to various questions related to Google’s recent new product announcements, John Lagerling, Google’s director of business development for Android, revealed during an interview with The New York Times details about potential Motorola Nexus plans. Just don’t get too excited!

The executive talked mainly about Google’s new Nexus devices that were announced on Monday, via press releases instead of an actual media event that was canceled because of Hurricane Sandy, praising some of their features. Another important highlight for Lagerling is the Nexus 4’s entry price of $299 (that’s the full retail price for the 8GB Google Nexus 4), a price that he personally negotiated.

But here’s the bit that got our attention:

Q. Where does Motorola stand in all this? You haven’t used them yet for the Nexus program.

A. They stand where Sharp would stand, or Sony would stand or Huawei would stand. From my perspective as a partnership director, they are another partner. We are really walled between the Motorola team and the Android team. They would bid on doing a Nexus device just like any other company.

Q. So how does Google take advantage of the Motorola acquisition?

A. The way I understand it is, it’s mostly about the patents, the way you can sort of disarm this huge attack against Android. We talked about prices. There are players in the industry who were unhappy about more competitive pricing for the consumers. They want to keep the prices high, they want to force the price to be so high that operators have to subsidize the devices very highly. That’s not only the Cupertino guys but also for the guys up in Seattle. They want higher margins, they want to charge more for software.

We simply believe there’s a better way of doing it without extracting that much payment from end users, because there are other ways to drive revenues. Patents were used as a weapon to try to stop that evolution and scare people away from lower-cost alternatives. And I think with the Motorola acquisition we’ve shown we’re able to put skin in the game and push back.

In case you forgot, Google’s Motorola subsidiary that cost the company $12.5 billion is still bleeding money quarter after quarter. Users would have expected Google to at least launch one Nexus-branded device made by Motorola this year, or at least have the devices that were announced after the acquisition was finalized to run Google’s most recent Android OS version.

Neither of these things happened. And from the looks of it, a Motorola Nexus device is not yet a priority, as it was all about those patents.

During Google’s Q3 quarterly earnings report, company officials revealed that a Motorola Android device made to accommodate Google’s Android needs – therefore a Nexus device – may only be made at some point next year.

As for timely Jelly Bean updates, Google did introduce a cashback program for Motorola device owners that will not get a Jelly Bean upgrade for their smartphones and/or tablets. But it failed to offer actual timely updates for existing and new handsets.

Sure, Google did say that it won’t favor Motorola in any way now that it owns the communications device maker. And Google repeated these statements quite a few times, to make it clear for its other Android partners that it won’t screw them over by offering cheaper Motorola-made Android device to consumers that would run the latest Android versions ahead of the competition.

On that note, one could argue that Google managed to screw over most Android top device makers by releasing budget-friendly devices such as the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 4, but that’s a topic for another rainy day.

Getting back to Lagerling’s statements on the Motorola purchase, it appears that it’s very clear for the exec – and probably others like him that work for the company – that the move was important only for the current mobile patent wars. Or at least that’s what’s he’s being told.

And if you’d think that buying a trove of patents for a lot of money would help you in courts against Apple and Microsoft, well then guess again! Not only isn’t Google able to obtain any favorable rulings at this time, but the FTC seems more determined to investigate the way some of these patents are used against rivals in courts.

So how about designing some Motorola Nexus devices and launching them soon, you know, before Sharp or Sony will unveil their Nexuses?

  • Andrew Mezzi

    Then why didn’t they just buy Moto’s patents instead of the whole company?

    • Rex_D

      I don’t see how it would make sense that Motorola would sell its patents. What protection would they have then? I am sure a significant portion of Motorola’s revenue comes from licensing it’s patents. If they sold them to Google, wouldn’t they then have to license them from Google?

      • Andrew Mezzi

        Well, it would only need to license the patents if Google made them, and I don’t see how it would benefit Google to do that. On the other hand, I guess Motorola wouldn’t have any leverage if Apple or Microsoft sued them over patents. I see your point, though.

      • michael arazan

        Motorola has been in the wireless communication game since the 1920’s, and made the first cell phone. They probably have the most patents in wireless technology to date. Not to mention Motorola is an American company that helped win WW2 with the radios they made that were state of the art and deserve to be saved as they are a true american icon.

        • Rex_D

          Apologies, but I am not clear on your point? Are you posting a random comment, or is this meant to be a reply to something I’ve posted?

  • thanks for the heads up article – now knowing that it would not happen i can go ahead and wait for Samsung to bring on the beast!

  • Mikel Martin

    Here is the way I see it.
    Buying Moto not only provided Google the patents, but it also signaled to Apple and others; go ahead drive all the manufactures away from android, then we can do and charge whatever we want. It’s just going to take those other players a little while to understand this point. ;)

  • mintslice

    I don’t think Google is trying to screw over manufacturers with Nexus 4 and 10. I think they are sending a clear message that vanilla Android is a lot cheaper to produce than spending R&D on messing with the OS

  • I still hope that they are working in some revamping of the Nexus program, and working in a Moto Nexus for the next year.

    As they say, Motorola has a 12-18 month product cycle. Jelly Bean was launched in July. They don’t change the OS name with the release of Nexus 4 and 10. Motorola deal was closed in the end of May.

    At July 13, Motorola already have a14 months of Google management AND a hole year of Jelly Bean. It will be a good milestone to reveal the Key Lime Pie and a full, planed and developed, google’s phone.

    I think that they really don’t want to put their partners in disadvantage in the dispute for Nexus seal. So, the smart move will be open the program for more than one Phone and tablet release.

    I just don’t know how they can manage the OTA updates of a large number of different devices. All the previous Nexus (I believe that only the Galaxy, the 4, 7 and 10 will get the KLP) and the new Phones and Tablets that would be releases if they open the program for the next year. And this number will be getting bigger every year!

    The other solution, and I hope Google go for it, is close the Nexus program in Motorola. Make the Nexus in Motorola and sell it like the real Google’s Phone and Tablets (without the motorola brand!), apart the other Motorola’s devices. Microsoft is doing it with Windows 8 and Phone 8. They made the Surface and that is it! Their partners accepted that, and they are still making WP8 and W8 Tablets and laptops!

  • Rico Suave

    Google is missing a huge opportunity, what they should really do is go big. Now that they own a hardware manufacturer, they should also buy a NETWORK. Then completely open it up. You can either buy a prepaid Moto Nexus, another android device, or BYOD from another network as long as the radios are compatible. No contracts, no locked phones, no BS. Charge barely enough to keep the network solvent with a razor thin profit. Open it up to anyone who wants to make their own MVNO.

  • Jared Persinger

    hmm still losing profits, well I did my part I bought the droid razr maxx hd

  • Netz Hog

    Oh, please do bring an article on the theme of “is Google damaging other manufacturers buy releasing high end devices to budget prices?” that could bring up some interesting discussions.

    when I hear what people are posting in blogs all over the net, it seems to me that so many are just yearning for a Motorola nexus device. I hope Google is listening too! So why not indeed, Motorola definitely has some slick hardware, on the other side moto-blur is just about dead, the phones run very close to stock android. This should allow them to push out updates very quickly (I think we are seeing some changes in this department already) doing so they could very well play the role of the pseudo nexus without risking discomfort with other manufacturers and put pressure on them at the same time to improve their own update process.

  • If you think with logic. If Google just buy Motorola Mobility because just patents; why Google choose New CEO Motorola Mobility from Google, Motorola Nexus Razr already confirm by Google when Motorola Razr i release in UK (you can find the word of Motorola Nexus Razr on thats video).

  • Rex_D

    Google would put itself at risk by using it’s Motorola purchase to make it’s own phones. They are already on the being investigated by the FTC for concerns of monopolizing practices via it’s search engine. People are attacking Google left and right because of fear of the competition getting too big. If Google were to release killer Motorola phones it would put them under scrutiny as becoming to much of a monopoly in the mobile phone business. This hasn’t happened to Apple because they get their parts from a variety of companies and don’t actually make their own phones, but instead piece them together from purchased parts. I am a Google loyalist and would love for Google to dominate all areas of search, OS, mobile , email, social networking, (I’d even like to see Google buy Verizon wireless or build a network on par) etc…. but the larger they grow the more pressure they receive from opposition, which can often crush a large companies success. They have to play it a little safe. Can you imagine Samsung, HTC, Microsoft, AND Apple all ganging up on Google? It could happen if Google helped Motorola make top of the line phones that blew away the competition.

    • eric10234

      Not too sure I agree with you there. As it stands, even if Google decides to build its own phones via Motorola, it isn’t any different from Apple producing their own phones. You mention that Apple buys parts and pieces and put them together. Well, Apple designs its own A5, A6 chipsets. Motorola purchases chipset designs from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon ranges, purchases Kevlar from some one, purchases its screen from someone, etc etc. Unless I’m much mistaken here, Motorola doesn’t produce its own chipsets or screens yet.

      I’m not a Motorola supporter by the way. Just pointing out that Google making its own phones via Motorola is the same as Apple making its own phones via Apple.

      • Aaron

        But if you are Google you really don’t want to alienate your other partners, i.e. Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, etc. Having multiple manufacturers is what is giving Google the edge against Apple. HTC already looks to be heading for greener pastures by making a move toward WP8. They are still making Android devices, too, but this could be the beginning of a threatening trend. Any full scale defection to WP8 would be wounding to Google’s market share. Couple that with Amazon and Facebook looking to get in the handset market and you can see where Google has to tread lightly. Moto/Google cannot stand alone.

      • Rex_D

        I’m not really sure what point you are trying to make? Are you saying that Apple should also be investigated by the FTC? Or are you saying that Google should be able to use Motorola to produce their own phones without fear of scrutiny because it is no different than Apple building and selling their own phones?

  • Joe_Kickass

    Since Google isn’t releasing a new Nexus on Verizon I am praying for a Motorola Nexus. I can’t go back to using Sense and I don’t want to go near Touch Wiz. Plus rooting the is probably a pain. I think Motorola should have been top of the list of manufacturers to make a nexus phone. If it wasn’t for them and the original DROID then Android wouldn’t be as huge as it is now. Before motor blur ruined everything I would have gladly bought more Motorola android phones.

  • Aaron

    The Google acquisition of Motorola hasn’t benefited Motorola’s customers. My phone was released 13 months ago with a Tegra 2 processor and 1GB RAM, but in spite of this and Moto’s 18 month update promise my phone has beem declared End Of Life. Not only will my phone not be receiving an official update to ICS or JB, but they are refusing to unlock the bootloader and release the drivers. I don’t care if Moto does make a Nexus. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

    • eazi25

      The software won’t run smoothly on that processor, the new is when tested on such devices as yours. Wasn’t worth the headache, upgrade. All the new razors already had jellybean running at the press conference it won’t be long before the release.

      • Aaron

        My Asus TF101 has a Tegra 2 and it runs more smoothly with ICS than it did with Honeycomb. The Xoom also has the same configuration and it is much older than my Electrify, and yet it has received ICS (and I believe JB). What’s worse, the Atrix has had a leak of the official ICS build, and it was nearly complete. And as you may know, the Atrix, Photon 4G, and Electrify are all very similar. But even accepting your conclusion that it wouldn’t run smoothly, they could at least release the tools to the developer community to unlock the bootloader and get the video drivers working on custom ICS and JB ROMs. But they have refused. So now I am locked into a contract for no less than 6 more months before early renewal, waiting to upgrade to a more up to date device. And all they have offered is a $100 buy back IF I get another Motorola. No deal. I refuse to get left behind again. If you aren’t on Verizon you cannot count on Motorola. Now if they ever make their RAZR brand available across carriers I might consider a Motorola again. But so long as AT&T get Atrix, Sprint gets Photon, US Cellular gets Electrify, I will not. These brands have been abandoned prematurely once, and will no doubt be abandoned again.

  • eazi25

    Trust Google will make a motor nexus. And to be honest most Motorola phones outperform the competitors side by side. Nexus and RAZR , s3 and RAZR HD. I tested these devices and the HD took better pics then the s3 despite reviews I read and loaded web pages faster using the same hardware. The new RAZR line is the closes to nexus devices out. There is a reason for that!!!! Google peoplel

  • ebinrock

    At the very least, then, Motorola should work out a deal with Verizon and let users UNINSTALL (not merely disable) all the bloatware they shoved onto the latest Moto phones (DROID RAZR M, DROID RAZR HD, and DROID RAZR MAXX HD).

    • ebinrock

      …And to switch to stock Android if we wished.

  • just a guy

    Motorola hitched there wagon to the Verizon horse in 2009 & gave premium exclusiveness to get serious backing from Verizon during the OG DROID launch, with Google now owning & those long term contracts closing out you will see an expansion of motor, notice the huge push from Verizon last year after the launch day of the RAZR there where add campaigns for months, Google & big red couldn’t play nice as any Verizon gnex owner will testify, what push have we seen for HD’s? There is a turning point & I will be looking to a bright Motor Intel future where Google can give Motorola X86 “favoritism without ruffling any feathers… any thoughts?