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Android vendors unfazed by Google-Motorola deal

A woman talks on her mobile phone in front of a HTC advertisement in Taipei
A woman talks on her mobile phone in front of a HTC advertisement in Taipei

By Tarmo Virki

BERLIN (Reuters) - Smartphone vendors using Google's Android platform are unfazed by the Web giant's acquisition of Motorola Mobility, seeing it as a move to protect the software from legal attacks and not a competitive threat in the marketplace.

Android vendors Sony Ericsson, HTC and Acer told Reuters at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin they are not changing their product plans regarding Android due to the deal.

Last month Google unveiled its biggest deal ever, acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, launching it into a lower-margin manufacturing business and pitting it against many of the 38 other handset companies that now use Google's Android software.

The move has raised fears that some top Android vendors could seek other platforms for their smartphones.

"Google is mainly trying to protect Android. Patents is what they are after," Florian Seiche, head of Europe, Middle East and Africa for HTC, told Reuters in an interview.

Google, HTC and others using the platform have been under numerous legal challenges from the likes of Apple and Microsoft. Apple has also seen the first courtroom success in its attempts to block Samsung from selling some of its Android devices.

The Motorola acquisition will give Google access to one of the mobile phone industry's largest patent libraries. The company had been under pressure to build a patent portfolio after losing out to Apple, Microsoft Corp and others in a recent auction of bankrupt Nortel's assets.

"It is important for us to protect the Android ecosystem," Nikolaus Scheurer, head of product marketing at Sony Ericsson, said in an interview.

All the latest Sony Ericsson smartphone models use Google's Android software.

"Google confirmed that this is not making Google a hardware manufacturer. I assume the global market share of Motorola is somewhere around 15 percent in Android. I think everybody would agree that it does not really make sense to jeopardize 85 percent of your business," Scheurer said.

Sony Ericsson has held on to its option of using Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, but has not rolled out a new Microsoft model for several quarters.

Stefan Engel, the head of Acer's German operations, said the firm would continue to make Android devices and the deal had not had an impact on the company's software plans.

(Additional reporting by Nadine Schimroszik and Jens Hack; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Gary Hill)

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