Photo: Flickr/Herkko Hietanen
Google is trying to unload Motorola’s TV set-top box business before its acquisition even closes.That’s according to a report in the New York Post this morning, which reports that Google has enlisted Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst partners to help find a buyer.
Motorola is one of the world’s two big providers of these boxes, which are used by cable TV companies to deliver service to homes. (The other big player is Cisco’s Scientific-Atlanta.)
Last August when Google announced the deal, Larry Page said that Motorola’s TV set top box business was an asset, and hinted that Google would keep it around.
But the TV market is gradually moving more toward devices that deliver content over the Internet, such as Apple TV, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Google’s own Google TV products. Google is also building its own consumer electronics hardware, and is rolling out a fibre optic network that will include pay-tv service in Kansas City. So maybe Motorola’s TV set-top business looks redundant with what Google is already buiding in house.
But it is profitable. Last quarter, the Motorola Home segment (mostly set-top boxes) earned $57 million on net revenue of $897 million.
Smartphones are not. The Mobile Devices segment lost $70 million on net revenues of $2.5 billion.
But Google isn’t buying Motorola for its business today. It’s buying Motorola for patents and — we believe — to exercise more control over the Android phone market.