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How Motorola Mobility could save Google from looming 'threat'

Google has acquired Motorola Mobility, a company with a whole lot of valuable patents. But of the 17,000 patents, Google especially prizes 18, according to a new report.

By Matthew Shaer / August 22, 2011

Motorola Mobility, Google's latest acquisition, brings with it plenty of patents, which could help shore up Android's grip on the mobile phone market.

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Last week, Google announced it would acquire Motorola Mobility, an Illinois-based communications giant. The deal raised more than a few eyebrows, not least because of the $12.5 billion price tag attached to Motorola Mobility – there was also the fact that the company, which was spun off from Motorola in January of this year, had been recording some pretty brutal operating losses in recent quarters.

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Still, in a statement, Google CEO Larry Page was resolutely upbeat about the acquisition. "Motorola Mobility's total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies," he said. "Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers."

Today comes some evidence of Motorola Mobility's real value to Google: Some 17,000 patents, "cover[ing] technology essential to the mobile-device industry, including location services, antenna designs, e-mail transmission, touch-screen motions, software-application management and third- generation wireless." So says Bloomberg News, which estimates those patents could be vital to helping Google bolster its position in the mobile market.

"There are a lot of sweet patents in that portfolio," Dean Becker, chief executive officer of ICAP Patent Brokerage, told Bloomberg. Of particular interest are 18 "key" patents, which could help Google defend its Android platform against infringement suits lobbed by competitors such as Apple. According to Bloomberg, in a conference call last week, David Drummond, chief legal officer at Google, said Android was "under threat."

No wonder Google feels like it's everyone's number-one threat: Android's grip on the mobile market continues to tighten. The most recent report from the analysts at NPD indicate that a full 52 percent of smartphones sold in the US now run Android, compared to the 29 percent that run Apple's iOS. The BlackBerry OS, meanwhile, continues to slide (as do RIM's fortunes). NPD puts RIM market share at a lowly 11 percent.

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