Potential sale of Motorola’s set-top box division not a good sign for Google TV?


While the focus of Google’s buyout of Motorola was patents first, then mobile hardware, also acquired in the transaction was the hardware maker’s Home division. The business, which manufacturers set-top boxes typically distributed by cable and other television providers, has been floated for sale, with reports now stating a deal could be inked before the end of the year.

According to Bloomberg, Google has been approached by both Arris Group and Pace Plc over a potential sale of Motorola’s TV business. The report is also quick to state that the chance of a deal being reached so soon is still only about 50 percent. Google is still seeking to retain equity in the company as well as a stronghold on its associated patents.

Never mind what it says about Google’s continued downsizing of Motorola after spending $12.5 billion to acquire the company last year, the move could speak volumes about how the search giant currently feels about its Google TV offering.

While no solid plans ever surfaced, owning Motorola Home opened up some intriguing possibilities for bringing Google TV to a larger audience. Shipping set-top boxes with the internet TV platform pre-installed could have pushed the service to a much wider user base via bundling with cable providers. It also presented the possibility for Google to work closer with such providers to create a more integrated Google TV experience.

The truth is, though, Motorola Home was likely never going to be Google TV’s savior. Other than providing Google with an outlet to create a great piece of hardware, the platform would likely still suffer from the same sort of issues it has seen thus far. As things stand, Google seems content to put minimal effort into what is becoming more and more a pet project, even as hardware partners attempt to push better GTV hardware to market.

We would have loved to have seen a Nexus set-top box power by Google TV. It would sure go over better than the Nexus Q. Motorola afforded Google with the opportunity, but if anything was ever to come of it we likely will never know.

Kevin Krause
Pretty soon you'll know a lot about Kevin because his biography will actually be filled in!

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  1. It wouldnt have mattered because cable companies are content renting out the dated, poor set top boxes they have had for a long time and customers are happy using what the cable company provides. That is one thing Jobs hit on the head when asked about Apple TV and why its just a project. Its tough to compete with free and the cable companies are not going to be wanting to rent out boxes that basically replace them (with web content, apps, etc).

  2. I can’t see cable companies ever going for a Nexus cable box. They want total control over their equipment and customer experience. I have been using a cable card for over a year now in a Silicon Dust HDHomeRun Prime. The cable company doesn’t make it easy to use a cable card, because it cuts into their equipment rental income. I’d love to see a Google TV box that takes a cable card; then anyone could use it.

  3. Cable providers (The only Moto Home customers) hate Google TV and all the others “cable cutter” boxes, so it´s imposible that a cable provider bundle a Set top box with GTV integrated.

  4. devils advocate here – we don’t really know the circumstances. I mean motorola may have previously entered into a contract with the providers to adhere to some strict limitations that google doesnt want to deal with? Or maybe google has been able to build a better mousetrap as a result of their google fiber set top boxes and doesnt need to motorola operation? I think google is interested in going around the cable providers, not through them (which is what motorola always did).

  5. I believe Arris and Pace are also in the cable set-top box business – so this appears to be an example of the well known extinguishment method of competition.

  6. Pace is a tiny little company that was started up in my part of the world [Yorkshire, England] they built their business up to specialize in STB’s and became the major supplier that they are today –

  7. I can’t agree with the author on this one. Selling off an unprofitable segment of Motorola isn’t a signal about Google TV and its future. Google’s direction has always been to let their hardware partners and industry manufacturers grow the product, having Google guide and develop. Google TV is still in an infancy stage but growing steadily. I doubt we will see Google make a big push that excludes or scares off partners until it is more widely accepted by end users. Bottom line, this is not a sign of GTV slowing down.

    1. Sorry, but Motorola Home is profitable!

      1. True. But so is Google. They will figure out with or without Moto Home.

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