When Google finally acquired Motorola Mobility, it promptly took stock of the company and then began cleaning house. Just this past month, Google has announced 4,000 layoffs for the company and closed down its branch in Netanya, Israel. It was widely believed that the acquisition had more to do with Motorola’s patents than the company’s products, and now that the company is being pared down and re-focused for Google’s needs, it seems Google might find a use for it yet.
Bloomberg this week reported that Google has hired Barclays to sell the division of Motorola Mobility that makes set-top cable boxes. Bloomberg’s anonymous sources stated that the division could sell for as much as $2 billion.
It’s easy to see why Google would want the money rather than a company that makes set-top boxes. Google already has OEMs making boxes for its Google TV software, and Motorola’s boxes are focused on being sold to cable companies, who rent them out to customers. As a result, the boxes are not entirely consumer-friendly, with much of their hardware and design focused on helping cable companies control the means of content consumption. Though Motorola was in the process of improving the boxes’ software with its DreamGallery Apple TV knockoff, the software on the boxes is still far behind the Apple TV or the Android-powered Google TV.
Another possibility is that Google doesn’t see a future in Motorola’s DVRs, or DVRs in general. Low-cost Google TV boxes have begun rolling out in anticipation of the holiday buying season. Rumors are flying that Apple is trying to get cable companies on board with its upcoming all-in-one HDTV, which could change the way cable television is consumed. Perhaps Google knows that a future where consumers aren’t forced to rent set-top boxes from cable providers is closer than consumers think.