Originally published: February 13, 2012
Last updated: February 13, 2012 - 5:30pm
The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a developer of smartphones and tablets, by Google, the world's largest internet search and search advertising company and developer of Android, one of the most popular mobile operating systems.
The Commission approved the transaction mainly because it would not significantly modify the market situation in respect of operating systems and patents for these devices. The Commission considered whether Google would be likely to prevent Motorola's competitors from using Google's Android operating system. The Commission's investigation showed Android helps to drive the spread of Google's other services. Consequently, given that Google's core business model is to push its online and mobile services and software to the widest possible audience, it is unlikely that Google would restrict the use of Android solely to Motorola, a minor player in the European Economic Area (EEA), as compared to operators such as Samsung and HTC. Motorola, as some other market participants, holds patents that are essential for telecommunications standards to operate. Access to such "standard essential" patents is therefore crucial for players on the smartphone market. However, the Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly change the existing market situation in this respect. Finally, the Commission also examined whether Google would be in a position to use Motorola’s standard essential patents to obtain preferential treatment for its services, including search and advertising. The Commission found that Google already had many ways in which to incentivize customers to take up its services and that the acquisition of Motorola would not materially change this.
The Commission therefore concluded that the transaction would not significantly impede effective competition in the EEA or any substantial part of it.
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