Google Acquires Motorola: Deal Includes Set-Top Boxes, DVRs [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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08-15-2011, 03:31 PM
The big tech news of the day is Google's $12+ billion takeover of Motorola Mobility ($12.5b/?tag=mncol;txt). Nearly all of the discussion is with the implications for Motorola's cell phone business (which has been bleeding red ink for years), and what it means for Google's Android OS (;feature-roto), which is embroiled in numerous patent lawsuits.

But, one angle to this story that I has not been discussed quite as much is with Motorola's cable TV receiver/DVR business. Right now, Motorola is the biggest set-top box provider to the pay TV industry.

Every AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS subscriber has a Motorola box, most Comcast subscribers have a Motorola box, and many other cable companies use Motorola boxes. That's a huge base of existing customers already locked into Motorola products. Unlike with cell phones, customers don't really have much choice of cable receivers, once they decide on a provider.

Wired's article lays out the current state of the market, and presents some intriguing scenarios. Basically, the providers are in charge, and there's little market incentive to produce better set-top boxes for cable/satellite service. The boxes are provided to subscribers for free or for a monthly lease fee, so most customers are not going to pay more to get a higher quality unit that might have a better interface or more features.

Did Google Just Turn Motorola Into the New Super-TiVo? | Epicenter*| (

But, with Google eager to get into the TV business, and stymied so far with their ill-fated Google TV venture, the Motorola acquisition might be their trojan horse to move their platform into subscribers' living rooms.

Of course, the sticking point here is that the cable/satellite providers hold the keys to the locks, and I don't see them willingly handing control over their program platforms to Google. But, Google could potentially build a fairly compelling interface and OS for the Motorola set-top boxes/DVRs, and build it right into their entire lineup. It wouldn't take much, given how awful the interfaces are for most set-top boxes right now.

And of course, Google's inclination would be to create the interface and give it away. But, remember that Google is basically an advertising company that aggregates users together by giving away services for free. In exchange for those free services, Google datamines your usage patterns and sells it to advertisers. Obviously, real time TV viewing data would be a holy grail to any advertiser, and it wouldn't be a stretch to build that kind of tracking into a cable/satellite box.

Google TV has failed thus far because content providers blocked Google TV from accessing their programs. Google thought they could simply redistribute "free" streaming programs, and gain the analytics data about TV viewing habits without paying the providers.

Now, with Google acquiring Motorola, they actually have the opportunity yet again to build the perfect datamining machine. Question again becomes whether the cable/satellite companies will let Google obtain that kind of data (and triangulate the TV viewing habits info with all the other analytics data that they already collect on people's online usage habits).

So, this Google-Motorola merger is rife with all kinds of angles. For home theater enthusiasts, the intrigue is with potentially much better software built into future Motorola set-top boxes/DVRs. The question becomes how this fits into Google's larger agenda -- where nearly all of their revenue comes from advertising.

08-16-2011, 04:21 AM
I'm consistently bothered by the phrase "datamines".

08-18-2011, 07:39 PM
Datamines" sounds like its gonna explode :thumbsup:

Google have a huge commitment to this deal, like paying Motorola 2.5 billion if the (Regulators) block the deal!! I was reading some articles on Yahoo news, and this titled "datamines" me Motorola to save Android....speaking of which, kinda shines some "other" light on Google's enthusiasm towards this buyout.

Google's Big Mistake - Buying Motorola to Save Android - Forbes (