Motorola: What’s in it For Google?

It was an announcement big enough to create a positive jolt in a Dow Jones sorely in need of one.

But observers continue to ask why Google would be interested in buying Libertyville-based Motorola Mobility, a cell phone company with only three percent of a very competitive market?

Morningstar's Rick Summer says the answer is in Motorola's patent portfolio.

"Google doesn't have a big portfolio of patents. One of the things that Motorola has, the legacy of being around so long, and being innovators as they have ... 17,0000 patents," Summer says.

It's intellectual property that could come in handy as Android starts facing patent lawsuits from companies like Apple.

"Having triple to quadruple the number patents that they have means that you can sue me, but perhaps I can sue you," Summer says.

Motorola's Droid line of smartphones helped popularize Google's Android operating system, and its hardware expertise could give the software company a leg up when it comes to building the next generation of smartphones, according to John Peltz of Crain’s Chicago Business.

"Google needs to compete with Apple. That means they need to own the software and the hardware, and if that's the case, then they need Motorola and the capability that Motorola has," Peltz said.

Google says it plans to run Motorola as a separate business and license the Android operating system to other smartphone makers like Samsung and HTC.

"They just bought a competitor to HTC and Samsung, so this is going to be a delicate dance we're going to watch over the next few years. I'd say in the short run, nobody has any intention of upsetting the apple cart," Peltz said.

It's not clear how the 3,000 Illinois employees will be affected by Motorola's sale.

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