Things are about to become very interesting in the mobile communications space as Google (GOOG) this past weekend received China approval for its Motorola Mobility (MMI) acquisition - the deal closed Wednesday, May 21. The acquisition, valued at $12.5 billion, is likely causing some angst among handset manufacturers who know that this marriage is a viable threat to their bottom lines.
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On Saturday, Google announced that it had received the necessary approval from China to move forward with the acquisition. The $12.5 billion price tag breaks down to be $40 per share in cash, a premium of 63% to the closing price. This is the largest acquisition ever for Google, and it stands to be one of its most important. That's due to several factors, including the valuable patents that Motorola holds that can help it stave off lawsuits from its competitors. Also, this is a huge deal for the struggling Motorola, which has seen consumer demand for its devices drop off considerably as the operating systems from Google and Apple (AAPL) dominate the market.
Acquiring Motorola gives the Internet search engine giant access to more than 17,000 Motorola patents, which can help it and the handset manufacturers that use Android to power their phones compete. That competition includes Microsoft (MSFT), which is benefiting from its relationship with Nokia (NOK). Most recently, Nokia introduced the Lumia 900, which is powered by Windows. Then there is Apple, whose iPhones, powered by its proprietary iOS, are extremely popular to say the least. Apple has filed numerous lawsuits over patent infringements related to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, which is powered by Android.
The deal with Motorola will also bode well for Google because it is in desperate need of being able to manufacture its own phone and other mobile devices like tablets. A smart phone prototype being developed in 2006 was less than impressive. There were even accusations that it looked remarkably like Research In Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry device. No matter, to the pleasing of many techies, Google didn't roll out that device, but instead introduced the Android OS in 2008.
Just as Google has a long standing relationship with Motorola, it also has strong ties to Samsung. Samsung is the main handset manufacturer that runs Google's Android.
Presently, Samsung holds the most market share when it comes to mobile phones, according to a report released last week by Gartner Research. In the report, Gartner noted that Samsung is now became the world's top mobile handset maker during the first quarter of 2012, knocking Nokia off of the spot. Nokia had held the top spot since 1998, but poor sales of its devices, especially in the U.S. resulted in it losing the coveted position.
Samsung sold 86.6 million units during the first quarter of 2012, which was a 25.9% increase from last year.
In terms of smart phones, Samsung took back the world's No. 1 smart phone position from Apple, selling 38 million smart phones worldwide, Gartner stated in its report. "In addition, Samsung's Android-based smart phone sales in the first quarter of 2012 represented more than 40% of Android-based smart phone sales worldwide; no other vendors achieved more than a 10% share of the market."
Apple has been steadily increasing its market share over the years. For example, it carved out 7.9% of the smart phone market during the first quarter of 2012 compared to 3.9% of the market share during the first quarter of 2011, according to Gartner.
One of the notable terms of the agreement, which has been in the works since last year, is that Google make its Android operating system (OS) available to all of its partners for five years for free.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.