Google goes into excuse mode on Motorola

Google says that it is restructuring Motorola Mobility and it inherited a product pipeline to work through. Can Google get Motorola humming once it gets the pipeline?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Google's Motorola Mobility in some respects remains a head scratcher, but executives at the search giant are calling for some patience---and a dollop of excuses---as the device maker is restructured.


Motorola Mobility was front and center on Google's fourth quarter earnings conference call. CFO Patrick Pichette said:

No one should be surprised if results from the segments are variable for quite a while as we restructure the business. And remember, we inherited a 12-18 month product pipeline that we're still working through.

Also: Google's Q4 earnings beat estimates following dispute with Wall Street | Google statement | Google's Motorola Mobility acquisition: Does it still add up?

So now Motorola Mobility products are like inheriting a bad economy. That excuse doesn't quite fly in the business world although it's useful in politics. Why? No one told Google to buy Motorola Mobility. When Google bought Motorola Mobility it didn't position the deal as a fixer upper.

As noted previously, you can argue Motorola was all about the patents for Google. That argument seems quite logical. But let's not pretend that Motorola Mobility will suddenly be wonderful under Google's hardware roadmap. After all, Google hasn't been a hardware juggernaut. Until it concocts something like the Xbox, it'll remain a hardware mystery.

But the clock is ticking. The Motorola Mobility acquisition will be judged once Google dictates the pipeline. For now, Google is pleased with the velocity of change at Motorola and $1.5 billion in gross revenue in the fourth quarter, excluding the home unit. CEO Larry Page may be pleased, but we'll see how long investors maintain their patience.

What will Page do with Motorola Mobility? Page said:

I am excited about the business and today's multi-screen world. The opportunities are endless. Think about your device. Battery life is a huge issue. You shouldn't have to worry about constantly recharging your phone. When you drop your phone, it shouldn't go splat. Everything should be faster and easier. There's real potential to invent new and better experiences.

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