Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility dominated the headlines on Monday, but is it possible another company could come in and swipe Motorola away?
Possibly, says one analyst.
Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen suggests that Microsoft could make a counter bid for Motorola after the company's stock price shot up over the past two days.
"We believe that (Google's) bid is simply a defensive counterattack in an escalating 2-3 year wireless IP arms race between the three main OS players: (Apple), (Microsoft), and (Google), and that (Microsoft) may counterbid to keep (Motorola Mobility) away from (Google) and deal a severe blow to the Android platform," Smithen wrote in a note.
A counterbid by Microsoft would certainly add a new dynamic layer to what is already the story of the summer in the technology world. Microsoft already has a partnership with Nokia, leading some to speculate on Monday that Microsoft could be interested in acquiring either Nokia or RIM, but Smithen thinks Motorola is a better bet.
Motorola would likely be cheaper than Nokia or RIM, and also could help Microsoft gain U.S. market share while also diminishing Android's staying power.
"If (Microsoft) were to gain control of (Motorola Mobility)'s IP, the Android camp would fall even further behind in the patent arms race," Smithen wrote. "Also, (Microsoft) would gain valuable US market share, branding and distribution (esp. at Verizon) that it does not have with Nokia."
Google's main rationale behind its purchase of Motorola is believed to be to beef up in the current patent arms race. Google CEO Larry Page said the move was about "protecting and accentuating the growth of Android," an important task considering the lawsuits directed at its phone operating system.
Google lost out to Microsoft, Apple, and others for Nortel Network's 6,000 patents, making it that much more important to acquire a large patent base like Motorola's 17,000 patents.