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谷歌牵手摩托罗拉的5大隐忧

谷歌牵手摩托罗拉的5大隐忧

Alex Konrad 2011年08月22日
搜索巨头决定斥资125亿美元收购摩托罗拉移动,这一惊人之举有可能重塑移动行业,但其中也布满陷阱。

    有时,备选方案也毫不逊色。今夏早些时候,谷歌公司(Google)收购北电网络公司(Nortel Networks)专利组合的计划落空。彼时,有谁能预料到,它今天会斥资125亿美元现金收购摩托罗拉移动公司(Motorola Mobility)?

    确定无疑的是,此举不仅会改变谷歌的业务,更将改变激战正酣的硅谷专利之争的战局。有传闻说,由于竞争对手微软公司(Microsoft)亦垂涎于摩托罗拉(Motorola)专利库,谷歌于是破釜沉舟,先下手为强,此举同时堪称其短暂历史上最大的收购交易。(点击阅读《谷歌10大收购案大起底》)。但是,每桩交易都有风险,当交易有可能导致公司员工总数增加60%时,尤其如此。即便此项收购最终能够成功,其中也暗藏着种种危机。

    以下五大问题有可能给谷歌高层带来巨大麻烦:

风险之一:安卓遇险

    对于正在使用安卓移动操作系统的谷歌合作伙伴而言,此桩交易到底意味着什么?谷歌一直马不停蹄地忙着从索爱(Sony-Ericsson)、宏达电(HTC)、以及三星(Samsung)等诸合作伙伴处收集有关此次收购的积极评论。但是,如果此项交易当真威胁到安卓开放的生态系统的话,它就有可能妨碍后者的成长。无论结局如何,部分分析人士预计,由于手机厂商会担心谷歌可能给予摩托罗拉优惠待遇而求自保,微软可能会渔翁得利,其Windows Phone OS将赢得更多客户。(谷歌表示摩托罗拉不会受到特别照顾。)

    《财富》杂志(Fortune)采访到的多数分析师都把这个问题列为最大的忧虑。但是,瑞银证券(UBS)的布莱恩•皮兹表示,谷歌迄今的表现可谓无可挑剔。“谷歌从未表示要建立一个专有的生态系统。”皮兹表示:“如果他们言行不一的话,这句话就毫无意义可言。”

风险之二:整合之痛

    自谷歌宣布此项交易以来,人们关注的焦点始终集中在摩托罗拉1.7万个现有专利和7,500个待审批专利上。有谁想过摩托罗拉的1.9万名员工?这两家公司员工队伍的差异之大简直天差地别。一家自诞生以来始终保持迅速成长,体现的是自由奔放的、以工程技术为主导的企业文化;另一家是赫赫有名的集团公司,但近年来却始终在为生存而奋力挣扎。谷歌首席执行官拉利•佩奇在上周一举行的电话会议上对分析师们表示,收购后两家公司仍将独立运营,因此摩托罗拉的结构不会引发麻烦。这点还有待观察。

风险之三:手机业务何去何从?

    摩根士丹利公司(Morgan Stanley)警告投资人士称,谷歌将面临棘手的长期决策,以决定摩托罗拉手机生产业务的名媛:要么不遗余力地继续推进,要么将之独立分割出去,要么干脆停产。谷歌一两年内可能就会发现越来越无暇顾及“制造业务”,但这项业务短期内还不会是个拖累。如果佩奇的如意算盘不是仅仅保留专利和宝贵的技术,同时迅速切除其他业务的话,他将面临压力,分拆手机制造业务,待其累积优势,重创辉煌。

风险之四:出价过高

    谷歌为专利而收购摩托罗拉移动的两大问题:谷歌是否出价过高?此外,谷歌的专利法律纠纷能否得到切实解决?

    比如,摩根士丹利就估计摩托罗拉专利的价值只有20~30亿美元。但是,其他公司持不同意见。瑞士信贷银行(Credit Suisse)指出,以微软、黑莓手机生产商RIM(Research in Motion)、以及苹果(Apple)等公司为主导的反谷歌联盟在收购北电网络的专利时,平均每项专利花的钱比谷歌还多。此外,摩托罗拉的专利还包括尚处于开发中的专利以及待审批的专利,这些专利就长期而言具备更大的潜在价值。

    而且,谷歌眼下的法律问题仍不明朗。分析人士对《财富》表示,问题的关键不在于新获得的专利能给眼下的官司带来哪些帮助,而在于未来在与竞争对手达成交易时每项新专利能带来的竞争优势。因此,谷歌近期的麻烦不会消失,但现在它有了更多的讨价还价的资本。谷歌选择鲸吞摩托罗拉,而不是只购买其专利库,也引起了一些非议。但是,瑞银证券的皮兹将谷歌现在的处境比喻为军备竞赛:“保险箱里的存货越多,你的处境就越有利。”

风险之五:交易遭否

    对谷歌来说,这将是最糟糕的局面。届时,前文所述的种种专利收益将顷刻间化为泡影,才外,谷歌还要为此付出惨痛的代价。据摩根大通公司(JPMorgan)介绍,谷歌承诺的单方终止协议费高达25亿美元,是通常此类交易中标准单方终止协议费的6倍还多。如果联邦交易委员会(Federal Trade Commission)否决了谷歌的出价,它不仅有可能损失25亿美元的现金,而且还要为眼下的官司支付高昂的和解费用。

    但是,分析人士认为,联邦交易委员会不大可能否决此项并购。鉴于谷歌最近的一些收购案均迁延一月有余,毫无疑问联邦交易委员会亦会对此交易进行彻底审查。如果收购对象属于谷歌的核心业务范畴,它有理由担心联邦交易委员会否决这笔交易,但现在这种情形,它倒不必过虑。但是,联邦交易委员会已经明确表示,谷歌的规模和业务范围越来越大,它对此深表忧虑。尽管在2012年初之前,我们无法确知审查结果,但是,谷歌肯定希望不看好交易获批的分析人士判断失误。

    译者:大海

    Sometimes, plan B is pretty good. When Google missed out on buying Nortel Networks' patent hoard earlier this summer, few could have predicted it would make a stunning $12.5 billion cash bid for Motorola Mobility.

    The move is sure to change Google's (GOOG) business, not to mention alter the dynamics of Silicon Valley's raging patent disputes. With rumors that rival Microsoft (MSFT) was interested in Motorola's (MMI) patent cache as well, Google clearly made an aggressive defensive move that is also the largest acquisition in its young history. (See Google's 10 biggest acquisitions here.) But every deal has risk – especially one that will likely increase headcount by 60%. Even if the acquisition is eventually deemed a success, it is fraught with potential difficulties.

    Here are the five most plausible scenarios that could give those in the Googleplex serious headaches.

    Risk 1: The Android ecosystem is endangered.

    What does this deal actually mean for the company's partners using the Android mobile operating system? Google's been busy extracting positive remarks about the deal from various partners such as Sony-Ericsson, HTC and Samsung. But if this deal does threaten Android's open ecosystem, it could stymie its growth. Either way, some analysts expect Microsoft to gain clients on its Windows Phone OS as hardware makers protect themselves against possible preferential treatment for Motorola down the line. (Google says Motorola won't be favored.)

    Most analysts Fortune talked to rank this as their top concern. But Brian Pitz at UBS says the company's track record is pretty clean. "Google has never suggested that they want a proprietary ecosystem," Pitz says. "That argument makes no sense when it's not what they want to do."

    Risk 2: Integration.

    Attention has been focused on Motorola's portfolio of 17,000 existing and 7,500 pending patents. What about Motorola's 19,000 people? The shape of the two workforces couldn't be more different. One embodies the free-minded, engineering led culture of a company that's been growing rapidly; the other is a storied group that has been struggling to stay relevant. Google CEO Larry Page told analysts in a conference call Monday that Motorola's structure wouldn't pose a problem given the planned separate operation of the two companies. That remains to be seen.

    Risk 3: What happens to manufacturing?

    Morgan Stanley warned investors that Google will face a tricky long-term decision about Motorola's handset production: aggressively pursue it, spin it off or simply shut it down. 'Making stuff' may prove a mounting distraction in a year or two, but won't be an immediate drag on Google. If Page's plan isn't to keep the patents and valuable technology and quickly cut the rest, expect pressure for a spin-off to build up momentum over time.

    Risk 4: The patents weren't worth it.

    The two big questions about Google's patent pickup: did Google overpay? And, do they really solve Google's legal problems?

    Morgan Stanley, for one, estimates their worth at between just $2 billion and $3 billion. But others disagree. Credit Suisse notes that the anti-Google consortium led by Microsoft, Research in Motion (RIMM) and Apple (AAPL) paid more per patent for Nortel's intellectual property. Plus, Motorola's patents include in-development, pending patents with more potential upside over the long-term.

    The picture for Google's current legal troubles is also unclear. Analysts told Fortune that the key is not so much what each new patent covers in terms of current lawsuits but more so in terms of future leverage in reaching a deal with rivals. So the company's headaches in the short-term won't disappear, but it is in a much better bargaining position now. Google's choice to purchase Motorola outright rather than simply license its patent portfolio has raised some eyebrows. But UBS's Pitz compares Google's position to an arms race, "The more paper you can stack in your safe, the better-off you are going to be."

    Risk 5: FTC Rejection

    This would be the worst-case scenario for Google, as it would immediately lose the patent benefits outlined above and pay dearly for its trouble. According to JPMorgan, Google's promised break-up fee, $2.5 billion, is over six times the standard amount for such a deal. If regulators reject Google's bid, it stands to lose all that cash and face costly settlements in ongoing legal attacks.

    Analysts disagree on the odds of a regulatory setback though. Given the months-long delay for Google's most recent acquisitions, there's no question this one will garner intense scrutiny at the Federal Trade Commission. Google doesn't have to worry as it would if it bought a company in its core business, but the FTC has made it clear it's concerned about Google's increasing size and scope. We won't know until likely early 2012, but Google will hope to prove wrong analysts who consider approval its greatest concern on the deal.

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