Can Google Keep Its Hardware Partners From Bolting?

As pundits point to Motorola's cache of 17,000 patents, with 7,500 patent applications in progress as the main reason behind Google's purchase of Motorola, does it seem as though a 63 percent premium over Motorola's last closing stock price is a little high for such a purchase? Google may not have had a choice in the matter, as it's been reported that Microsoft was negotiating for the cache of patents, as well.

If Microsoft had acquired those patents, Google would have seriously been behind the patent eight ball. The thing is, according to the report, Microsoft wasn't interested in operating a hardware company (aside, we assume, from gaming hardware), and that was one plus in Google's favor. So Google struck fast and hard with its 60 percent premium over Motorola's stock price, winning the battle.

So, while some are saying that Google actually lured the "Applesoft consortium" into overpaying for the Nortel patents, if this other report is correct, it wasn't so much that they scammed the consortium into the purchase, but instead lost honestly and decided to quickly make sure they wouldn't lose out on the Motorola patent cache.

Still, while Microsoft did not want to run a hardware business, does Google want to do so? At least one analyst, Jonathan Chaplin, director of telecommunications equity research at Credit Suisse said that he wouldn't be surprised if Google dumped Motorola's manufacturing operations. He said, "I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get phased out."

Additionally, as the idea of Google's biggest deal ever, its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola (dwarfing its earlier $3.1 billion deal for DoubleClick), begins to sink in, the question is, how does Google keep its other hardware partners from becoming jaded, suspicious, you name it? It's not as though Samsung, for example, which rode Android's coattails to No. 2 smartphone OEM globally, behind only Apple and ahead of longtime leader Nokia.

That said, despite the "supportive responses" from Google's partners, it would be easy to see how they would wonder if they should stick with Android, or migrate to Microsoft's Windows Phone. On the other hand, Microsoft's deal with Nokia gives the Espoo-based company an inside track on Windows Phone, so is that such a great idea, either?

Google could, behind the scenes, go to their partners and tell them a) the purchase was all about patents, b) Motorola will be run as a separate company and have no advantage over any of the others (they've already indicated the former), c) don't panic (!).

The next few months should be interesting.