Google Sells Motorola Home Set-Top Box Unit For £1.5bn

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

UK’s Pace misses out on Google’s Motorola Home sell-off

Google has sold the Motorola Home set-top box business for $2.35 billion (£1.5bn) to cable equipment maker Arris, off-loading one of the bits it didn’t want, when it  bought Motorola Mobility earlier this year. The UK’s Pace home electronics firm lost out in the bidding.

Google bought Motorola Mobility mainly for its mobile business and patents, paying £8 billion ($13bn) for a unit which includes other stuff such as Motorola Home, which didn’t fit the company’s business – even though Google does have a streaming entertainment product called Google TV, which delivers media to devices from Samsung, LG and Sony.

Google Motorola Portrait

Motorola Home sell-off

Motorola Home employs 5,000 people and sells kit in 70 countries, and Arris says its gear is complementary to what it already has, because Arris has traditionally made network infrastructure.

Britain’s Pace – which inherited the once-mighty Amstrad set-top box business built up with Sky – wanted to get hold of Google Home,  but “could not agree on a deal”, according to reports.

Google’s main reason for buying Motorola was a  stash of 17.000 patents, reckoned to be worth $6.5 billion (£3.5bn) in  itself, as well as the mobile phone expertise owned by the declining cellphone maker. However, it will be constrained in how aggressively it can use either of these assets.

Google announced it would buy Motorola Mobility in August 2011, and had to convince regulators and competitors that owning a phone maker would not turn the Android operating system for competing manufacturers.

The firm also had to convince regulators it would not be using Motorola’s patents aggressively against rivals – in particular that it would give fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) access to patents which are essential to communications standards.

So far, Google has had an uphill struggle in cases it has attempted to enforce those patents, losing a fight with Apple, and facing a fight from Microsoft.

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