Our sources say that Motorola was in acquisition talks with several parties, including Microsoft for quite some time. Microsoft was interested in acquiring Motorola’s patent portfolio that would have allowed it to torpedo Android even further. The possibility of that deal brought Google to the negotiation table, resulting in the blockbuster sale.
Smart—if underhanded—move by Microsoft, if true: by talking to Motorola about acquiring them, there are two outcomes, all a net-positive for Microsoft. The first is the talks go well and they go through with it and purchase them, and now have even more patents to use against Android; the second possibility is they force the already cornered Google to overbid for Motorola and potentially damage their Android platform.
Heads I win, tails you lose at its finest.
Interestingly, Malik also says that Motorola found Google a more acceptable home because Microsoft had no interest in running a hardware business, and was only interested in their patent portfolio.
Google says they are going to keep Motorola operating as a separate company, but it’s going to be very difficult to keep Google and Motorola’s operations separate. The next time Google wants to make a flagship Android device to demonstrate what the platform is capable of, their natural partner will be the company they already own—but somehow I don’t think the U.S. government, or Google’s Android partners, are going to like that idea so much.