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谷歌-摩托罗拉联姻结出首个硕果

Kevin Kelleher 2011年11月03日

除了众多专利,谷歌为什么愿意多花95亿美元收购摩托罗拉?这个问题一度让人颇感费解。现在,真相算是大白了。

    近三个月前,谷歌公司(Google)在科技界毫无心理准备的情况下,以125亿美元的天价收购了摩托罗拉移动公司(Motorola Mobility Holdings)。此后的11周它到底是如何度过的?这11周里,谷歌先是挠头,接着开始后悔不迭,再接着又作了些大胆的分析,这之后又变本加厉地开始挠头。那么,谷歌到底从这桩交易里得到了些什么呢?

    也就是说,除了专利,还有别的什么收获?毕竟,对这桩交易的原因最直接、最显而易见的解释就是,谷歌之所以出手,是垂涎于摩托罗拉公司手里的17,000项现有专利和7,500项待批专利。谷歌当时迫切需要采取行动,在专利诉讼中自保。但分析人士称,摩托罗拉的专利最多值30亿美元。那么,谷歌为什么要多花95亿美元来买这些专利呢?更别提在这桩交易宣布之前,这桩收购已经让摩托罗拉每股价格大涨了63%。

    谷歌的葫芦里到底卖的什么药,现在我们或许可以看出一些端倪了。首先,一旦摩托罗拉并入谷歌,很可能发生大规模裁员。这种大换血已经开始启动了。就在这次并购发生之前,摩托罗拉的19,000名员工中就已经有800人遭到解雇。本周,摩托罗拉称,与裁员有关的遣散费将高达3,100万美元。

    而另一个迹象则是摩托罗拉推出了Droid Razr智能手机。Droid搭载Android 系统,是摩托罗拉旗下广受欢迎的智能手机。作为这一系列的最新款,Droid Razr据称将在11月10日在威瑞森公司(Verizon)无线网络推出。尽管它不可能从苹果公司(Apple)那里夺取iPhone的粉丝,但却能帮摩托罗拉从三星公司(Samsung)手中夺回一些市场份额。上一财季,三星公司的手机销售收入大涨40%,而摩托罗拉仅有20%的增幅。

    Droid Razr的提前评测反响良好。的确,这又是一款Android手机,但是,这是一款融合了刀锋系列(Razr)翻盖手机纤薄设计的产品。正是这种设计,使摩托罗拉的刀锋系列成为智能手机大行其道之前最后一款经典手机的象征。刀锋系列于2003年推出,一度曾是人们的必选手机。在著名电视剧集《迷失》(Lost)和《火线警告》(Burn Notice)中,它们也闪亮登场。四年间,它售出了1.3亿部,并让摩托罗拉成为手机行业响当当的头号品牌。

    Droid Razr试图重新焕发这种风靡一时的魅力,甚至希望利用过去刀锋机主们的怀旧心理,再次获得他们的垂青。摩托罗拉称,这款手机的厚度仅有7毫米,比iPhone和三星的Galaxy S II还要薄一毫米多,重仅4.5盎司。它的机身采用了雕刻的金刚玻璃(Gorilla glass,新型高强度耐刮擦玻璃——译注),坚韧的凯夫拉纤维(Kevlar,高强度合成纤维——译注)机壳以及防水涂层。

    摩托罗拉还宣称,Droid Razr是市面上最纤薄的智能手机,比iPhone还要薄。它内置一颗双核的1.2G处理器,拥有4.3英寸的AMOLED屏幕。据摩托罗拉称,这一屏幕令它成为首款能够播放网飞公司(Netflix)高清视频的智能手机。这款手机的电池据称充电一次连续通话时间长达12小时,对一款支持4G LTE功能的手机来说无疑非常理想。苹果公司今年之所以没有发布支持4G LTE功能的iPhone,部分原因正在于目前可驱动这种手机的芯片极为耗电。

    目前正是各家移动运营商大举建设高速LTE网络的4G时代,因此,Droid Razr就让摩托罗拉站在了充满希望的新起点上。而同样重要的是,它似乎也是该公司至今推出的对谷歌系统最友好的Android手机。Droid Razr将搭载当前版本的Android,但在谷歌未来推出下一代Android,即“冰淇林三明治”(Ice Cream Sandwich)的几周后,它也会支持这一升级系统。通常来说,这个过程需要耗时几个月。

    当然,Droid Razr不会是首款最早运行“冰淇林三明治”的智能手机。这一荣誉要归属三星的Galaxy Nexus手机。但跟这款手机不同的是,Droid Razr将很快成为谷歌旗下的手机。谷歌一直以来的所作所为表明,首款Nexus面世后,谷歌也很想生产自己的手机。尽管Nexus销售惨淡,但至少它跟谷歌自己设想的Android手机相去无几。

    Droid Razr将把摩托罗拉的硬件设计和谷歌的软件设计融为一体。一旦拥有了摩托罗拉公司,谷歌就能借助全球顶尖的手机公司之一的品牌和专业技术,完全按照自己的想法设计智能手机。这正符合我所猜测的驱使谷歌收购摩托罗拉的真正动机:除了看中后者的专利宝库之外,谷歌对于自行生产智能手机后将发生的情况心中没底。实际上也没人有把握。但对谷歌来说,想要弄个水落石出,就必须勇于尝试。

    手机行业仍然年轻,它竞争激烈,发展迅速。因此,这个行业的本性就是难以预测的。因此,说谷歌会因收购摩托罗拉而感到后悔,正如说它今后会将这桩交易看成是一笔精明的投资一样,都是说得轻巧。这桩交易无疑暗藏风险,或许根本就不会取得成功。但话说回来,哪里有风险,哪里就有回报。

    那么如果真不成功呢?谷歌会面临一段下坡路,但那也并不会有多糟糕。谷歌可以关停手机生产部门,或是再次将其出售。或者,最有可能的情况是,将其剥离给某个子公司,并让摩托罗拉重返公开市场。当然,专利还得攥在自己手中。

    译者:清远

    It's been nearly three months since Google caught the tech world off guard by offering to buy Motorola Mobility Holdings for $12.5 billion. That's 11 weeks of head scratching, followed by second guessing, followed by some daring analysis, followed by more head scratching. Just what is Google getting out of this deal?

    Aside from patents, that is. The immediate and most obvious explanation for the deal was that Google (GOOG) was interested in the 17,000 existing and 7,500 pending patents that Motorola (MMI) owns. Google needed to move aggressively to protect itself from patent litigation. But analysts valued Motorola's patents worth $3 billion at most. So why would Google pay a $9.5 billion premium for those patents, not to mention a 63% premium over the value of Motorola's shares before the deal?

    We may be starting to see some signs of what Google was thinking. First of all, there are likely to be substantial layoffs once Motorola is absorbed into Google. The bloodletting is already happening. Motorola is laying off 800 of its 19,000 workers even before the merger takes place. Motorola said this week it will incur $31 million in severance costs related to the layoffs.

    But another hint may lie in the release of Motorola's Droid Razr. The latest in Motorola's popular Droid line of Android-powered phones, the Droid Razr will reportedly launch on Verizon's (VZ) wireless network on Nov. 10. While it's unlikely to lure any iPhone lovers away from Apple (AAPL), it could help Motorola gain back some market share from Samsung, which saw revenue from mobile handset sales rise 40% last quarter, compared with a 20% rise in Motorola's mobile devices.

    Early reviews of the Droid Razr are positive. Yes, it's another Android phone, but it's one that incorporates the sleek design elements in the hardware that made Motorola's Razr line of clamshell phones the last iconic phone before the rise of the smartphone. Released in 2003, Razr's were once the must-have phones. They were featured in TV shows like Lost and Burn Notice. They sold 130 million units in four years, and made Motorola a top name in the mobile industry.

    The Droid Razr tries to recapture that allure, and even tap into nostalgia for any former Razr owners. Motorola says it's 7 millimeters thick, more than a millimeter thinner than the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S II, and weighs 4.5 ounces. Its case uses sculpted Gorilla glass, a tough Kevlar backing and a water-resistant coating.

    Motorola also claims the Droid Razr is the thinnest smartphone on the market, two millimeters thinner than the 1.9-millimeter thick iPhone. Inside is a dual-core 1.2 Gigaherz processor and a 4.3-inch AMOLED display that helps make it, according to Motorola, the first smartphone that can stream high-definition video from Netflix (NFLX). Its battery promises 12 hours of talk time on one charge, which is good for a 4G LTE phone. Apple balked at releasing a 4G LTE iPhone this year in part because chips available to power those phones drain away batteries.

    So the Droid Razr offers Motorola a promising start in the 4G era as mobile carriers build out their high-speed LTE networks. But just as importantly, it looks to be the most Google-friendly Android phone the company has produced to date. The Droid Razr will launch with the current version of Andriod, but will support the next generation of Andriod, Ice Cream Sandwich, several weeks after Google releases it. Normally, that process can take several months.

    Of course, Motorola's Droid Razr won't be the first smartphone to run Ice Cream Sandwich early. That honor goes to Samsung's Galaxy Nexus. But unlike that phone, the Droid Razr will soon become a Google-owned phone. Google has acted like it wanted to manufacture its own phones ever since the first Nexus, which saw disappointing sales but at least came close to Google's own vision of what an Android phone should look like.

    The Droid Razr will combine Motorola's hardware design with Google's software design. Once it owns Motorola, Google can design smartphones exactly as it wants them to be, only with the brand and expertise of one of the world's top mobile firms. Which gets at the real reason I suspect motivated Google's purchase of Motorola, beyond its patent portfolio: Google has no idea what will happen if it manufactures its own smartphones. Nobody does, really. But the only way for it to find out for sure is to try it.

    The mobile industry is young and competitive and rapidly evolving. It is by nature unpredictable. So it's just as easy to say Google will regret buying Motorola as it is to say it will look back on the deal as a shrewd move. This is a risky transaction that my not pan out, but where there is risk, there can also be reward.

    And if it doesn't pan out? There is a downside, but it's not so terrible. Google can shut down its phone manufacturing operations, or sell it off. Or, most likely, spin it off into a subsidiary and let Motorola return to the public markets. Minus the patents, of course.

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