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Google Bought Motorola for the Hardware, After All

Google didn't drop $12.5 billion just for patents...

Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility last month wasn't just about the patents. The Mountain View, Calif. company is interested in the hardware business, too.

I reported two weeks ago that partners such as Samsung have been scrambling behind the scenes to prepare for such an eventuality, which now seems to have been a smart move. Chairman Eric Schmidt confirmed Google's intentions in a question and answer session at a Salesforce.com conference on Thursday.

"We did it for more than just patents," Schmidt said, adding, "the Motorola team has some amazing products."

Yes, Motorola has quite the treasure trove of patents -- some 24,500+, to be exact. But it makes no sense for Google to dump $12.5 billion into just technology alone: Motorola's extensive product portfolio is also quite valuable.

Why would Google not want to take advantage of this, or, worse yet, spin it off? After all, much of Apple's success revolves around the fact that uses a "top-down" approach, which allows for a seamless experience that is tightly controlled by the company itself.

Look at Android: its fragmentation (hardware that varies from device to device) is nightmarish for developers. An app that works great on one device may malfunction on another, leading to an unpredictable experience for you the user.

With Motorola in tow, Google can now produce, in-house, a slew of Android devices--mobile phones, tablets, and the like--and better guarantee a consistent experience. It just makes sense, and now Schmidt has all but confirmed that.

So we come back to Google partners in Android. Do they continue to sing the praises of the deal as they did in the days following? Or do they start getting real and prepare for the reality of the situation, if they weren't doing so already?

My guess is the latter.

For more tech news and commentary, follow Ed on Twitter at @edoswald, on Facebook, or on Google+.

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