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China approves Google’s acquisition of Motorola, as long Android stays free for at least 5 years

May 21, 2012

Following the approval that Google had received from US and European regulators for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, the last big hurdle before the finalization of the buyout was the blessing from the Chinese authorities.

It looks like the acquisition plan can finally be completed, as Google announced over the weekend that the $12.5 billion deal has been approved, on one condition: Google has to keep the Android operating system open and free for other phone makers, for the next five years.

Responding to the positive feedback from the Chinese government, Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said that the company looks forward to closing the deal, which will see Google gaining control over Motorola Mobility. The costliest acquisition in Google’s history might pave the way for a plethora of Nexus devices coming out from Motorola. Google is still in cahoots with Samsung – for the next Nexus phone – and Asus for the first Nexus tablet, but as WSJ informed us, we might see many more Nexus devices (including from Moto) this fall.

It’s worth mentioning that gaining a hardware unit from the takeover is probably just the cherry on top of the patents cake. Motorola, after all, owns more than 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications. That’s quite an impressive list of potential weapons for Google to use against rivals in future legal battles.

Concerns about the possibility of Google giving Motorola special preference is something that the Chinese government has picked up as well. Hence, they wanted assurance from Google that it will keep Android free for the next five years and that’s what the Chinese have received, despite the fact that Google has never suggested otherwise. Still, the merger hasn’t failed to make some manufacturers feel uncomfortable at the prospect of being relegated to second rate customers.

Motorola, on the other hand, is a happy camper and is eager to close the multi-billion deal this week, says Jennifer Weyrauch-Erickson, the company’s spokeswoman.