Print 6 comment(s) - last by Arkive.. on Dec 10 at 1:05 PM

Sale would help focus Motorola Mobility on mobility

When Google Inc. (GOOG) bought Motorola Mobility, it was inevitable that big changes were in store.  Bleeding cash, but with a lot of interesting assets -- a smartphone business, patents, and a set-top box business -- Google had chosen quite the fixer-upper.

The latter unit (set-top boxes) has been the focus of Google's latest restructuring efforts.  Google will reportedly sell the unit, one of the largest producers of set-top boxes, in an auction to either a cable company like Arris Group Inc. (ARRS) or a private equity firm.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, a pair of sources say the auction could bring in between $1.5B and $2.5B USD for Google.  Other potential bidders listed by the WSJ include France's Technicolor SA (EPA:TCH) and the UK's Pace PLC (LON:PIC).

The set-top box unit is currently engaged in a war with rival TiVo Inc. (TIVO) who produces the eponymous set-top digital video recorder (DVR).  Both companies own key patents in the field and they are suing each other, each alleging infringement, in a conflict that mirrors the smartphone market's "patent war".
Motorola set-top boxes
Motorola Mobility is a top set-top box maker. [Image Source: Kivan Technologies]

The sale of the set-top box unit would allow Google to focus Motorola Mobility exclusively on smartphone objectives.  Google has committed to laying off 4,000 Motorola staff globally, trimming the unit's workforce by 20 percent.  If the set-top box unit sale is expected to represent a "refund" of between 12 and 20 percent of the unit's  $12.5B USD purchase price, which Google paid last year.

Source: WSJ

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Bad idea!
By mosu on 12/8/2012 11:18:22 AM , Rating: 2
In an era when we have smart TVs it looks like there's no need for set-top boxes...but the tech could be used by third-party and voila! a simple mode to increase competition so I hope Google will keep the patents involved.

RE: Bad idea!
By sprockkets on 12/8/2012 5:58:25 PM , Rating: 3
If cable companies continue to keep content on their networks and not on the internet, the set top box will continue.

If anything someone needs to just have them improve the UI. And let's hope it isn't apple since they want to be the next cable company.

RE: Bad idea!
By nocturne on 12/9/2012 4:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
I simply don't understand this.. especially with efforts in Google TV, not to mention the expansive market that could be gained by porting an Android experience over to set top boxes (as long as the cable companies don't mind).

I don't see any sign of set top boxes going away any time soon..

RE: Bad idea!
By RufusM on 12/10/2012 11:44:04 AM , Rating: 2
I think Google is making the right decision here.

The current cable boxes are designed around the cable companies designs. Basically bare bones units that are inexpensive to produce. If Google tries to push their UI and whatnot, the cable companies won't buy it. After all, Google competes with them for video on demand with the Google Play store. The cable companies would just move to a different producer of cable boxes and Google would be left with a much less desirable division.

As for the patents, I'm sure Google will keep the patents it needs and just license them to the buyer.

RE: Bad idea!
By Arkive on 12/10/2012 1:05:47 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is, when set top boxes do make their exit I think it will be sudden (or at least the writing on the wall will appear suddently). I suspect Google believes $1.5-2.5B now makes more sense than the profits they might make over the course of a few years (or less) and then being left with a company they can't sell (and the bad PR associated with layoffs).

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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