NEW YORK (Reuters) - Research in Motion and Microsoft Corp are emerging as potential winners after Google Inc said it would buy Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.
Potential losers include Motorola’s handset rivals that partner with Google such as HTC Corp, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson. These licensees of Google’s Android software now face the risk promoting a direct rival.
If this tie-up irks manufacturers, companies with their own software such as Microsoft and RIM could gain as handset makers start to shy away from the Android system.
Meanwhile, the deal announced on Monday is unlikely to affect Apple Inc’s quest for the hearts and minds of smartphone customers.
Phone makers that partner with Google for its Android software officially said they welcomed the deal. But some analysts questioned their sincerity because their efforts to promote Android would now benefit a director competitor.
“Google is essentially granting most favored nation status on Motorola,” said J. Gold Associates analyst and consultant Jack Gold.
Android handset makers may be more willing to take a gamble on the unpopular Windows phone as an alternative.
But the deal brings Microsoft directly into legal conflict with Google over Android patents, which may hamper its attempts to collect royalty payments from Android handset makers.
Microsoft and Motorola are already involved in a number of claims on each others’ technology. Google’s move to throw its weight behind Motorola will make for a tougher court battle for Microsoft.
Nokia’s U.S.-listed shares rose more than 17 percent on Monday as Google’s offer for Motorola rekindled speculation of a bid for the Finnish mobile phone company. Nokia did not comment on the buyout rumors.
Nokia decided earlier this year to go with Microsoft’s Windows operating system instead of its MeeGo software, which is being phased out.
Shares of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion rose more than 10 percent on the news.
Next year, RIM plans to move its BlackBerry smartphones onto the same QNX-based platform that runs the PlayBook.
An ever-tighter integration between Android and Motorola’s hardware “may put additional pressure on the success of RIM’s pending QNX Super phones strategy,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky wrote.
Analysts said the deal does little to change the mobile landscape for Apple, given that Google failed to excite consumers when it entered the handset business by launching Nexus, a phone co-manufactured by the Taiwan-based HTC Corp.
The most obvious impact will be on the multiple patent infringement lawsuits that Apple has against Android handset makers. Also, Apple was already suing Motorola Mobility for patent infringement.
Google has long been seen as a threat to the traditional pay TV industry, first with YouTube and then with Google TV box. Neither have quite had the negative impact on the cable business that some had predicted.
With this deal, Google is set to become one of the pay-TV industry’s largest suppliers. Even if physical set-top boxes go the way of the Walkman, Motorola’s encryption and conditional access software will continue to be important.
Bernstein Research analyst Craig Moffett said “the cable industry would be delighted to see Google inside the tent, so to speak, of the traditional Pay TV model.”
Shares of InterDigital Inc fell 18 percent after Google’s bid for Motorola sparked worries that the search giant may no longer be interested in the company’s wireless patent.
In July, InterDigital said it was looking at a possible sale of the company and the Wall Street Journal later reported that Google might be in the race for its patents. Analysts, however, said Google could still be interested in the patents.
Reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle, Alastair Sharp in Toronto, Poornima Gupta in San Francisco, Nicola Leske in Frankurt and Yinka Adegoke and Liana Baker in New York; Editing by Robert MacMillan, Matthew Lewis and Richard Chang