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Rumor: Google is Selling Off Motorola's Set-Top Box Business

Google is reportedly working on a deal to sell its Motorola Home Business unit as it currently faces lackluster sales of the Google TV platform.

The Motorola Home Business arm of the recently-acquired Motorola Mobility deals with building set-top boxes for cable providers. This unit would seemingly be ideal for the search engine giant's Google TV efforts, but the company instead wants to sell off this division so that Motorola can focus on high-end smartphones as the duo steps up competition with Apple.

Bloomberg reports that Google received multiple offers for the unit on December 7 including Arris Group Inc. and Pace Plc. which have made "the most compelling bids". The news arrives by way of an unnamed source who said a deal to sell the Motorola set-top box division currently has a 50-50 chance of being formerly announced by the end of the year.

According to the source, Google may wait until early next year to make the announcement due to "a complicated financing structure" that involves Google retaining some equity and the unit's patents. Google is reportedly looking to receive around $2 billion USD for the unit, the source claimed.

Naturally Google is declining to respond to rumor and speculation, but West Yorkshire, England- based Pace Plc. confirmed its proposal with Bloomberg, saying that the deal would result in a "reverse takeover". Currently Pace shares are suspended from trading until additional information about the acquisition can be supplied, or when the discussions with Google have ended. These talks are currently at a preliminary stage, the company said.

Bloomberg's unnamed sources claim the "complications" surrounding the Motorola unit's sale may have something to do with the company's patent-infringement litigation with TiVo Inc. They also said that private-equity firms likely won't purchase the unit due to its technology being replaced by digital applications. However Google and its financial adviser, Barclays Plc, may be working on ways to provide financing to prospective buyers.

News of the Motorola Home Business unit isn't unexpected, as Google said back in August that it planned to close about a third of Motorola's 90 facilities and cut 4,000 jobs as part of refocusing Motorola on the high-end smartphone market. The unit was part of Google's $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings back in May.

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  • dgingeri
    From my experiences with Motorola set top boxes (Comcast uses them) they SUCK. They're unreliable and featureless. They're horrible. If anyone is interested in this division, it must be for patents and contracts, not for the engineers' talents or the production quality.
    Reply
  • BigBodZod
    My issue with the Motorola HDVR (Comcast) unit I have is it sometimes will be slow to change channels or not receive the direct typed in channel number, I was always hoping that this could be fixed with a firmware upgrade but that has never happened.

    The other thing that is annoying is the freaking small-ass HDD capacity, only 160GB on a HDVR unit ?!?

    For me these are the only annoyances I can think of with my Motorola unit.
    Reply
  • dgingeri
    Oh, you don't know about the hard drives? I had 4 replaced in a span of 3 months due to bad hard drives. As it turns out, Comcast replaces the drives themselves with other capacity retail drives. However, in one case where I got one with a 500GB, I found they artificially limit the drive capacity. This also causes problems with the drives, causing that slow response you noted. HD-DVRs with a regular 160GB drive won't have that problem. The only real solution to that slow response problem is to do a full power cycle on the box. I've had it get really bad, where button presses wouldn't respond for several minutes. That's really annoying, as you can probably imagine, while playing back a recording and you want to skip through commercials.
    Reply
  • sykozis
    With Cox Comm, I went through 4 Motorola cable boxes. I'm on box #2 with Verizon. I've tried to replace it but there are no M-Card compatible cable boxes that are available to consumers aside from TiVo....which requires additional subscription fees. Hopefully, if someone actually buys Motorola's set-top box division, they improve the quality and are willing to sell to consumers. I'm tired of paying Verizon for a cable box that's flaky as hell.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    I've been using the same Motorola/Comcast HDVR for nearly four years and thousands of hours of use. About my only complaint is the relative low storage compared to something like what DirectTV costs. But anything I want to keep I just burn it to BD through a HTPC. I'm no Comcast lover, but they are the best option where I live. I can't complain.
    Reply
  • alxianthelast
    ... to Microsoft...?
    Reply
  • kyuuketsuki
    Motorola made pretty crap set top boxes anyway. Scientific Atlanta (a.k.a. Cisco) makes much better STBs.
    Reply
  • BigBodZod
    dgingeriOh, you don't know about the hard drives? I had 4 replaced in a span of 3 months due to bad hard drives. As it turns out, Comcast replaces the drives themselves with other capacity retail drives. However, in one case where I got one with a 500GB, I found they artificially limit the drive capacity. This also causes problems with the drives, causing that slow response you noted. HD-DVRs with a regular 160GB drive won't have that problem. The only real solution to that slow response problem is to do a full power cycle on the box. I've had it get really bad, where button presses wouldn't respond for several minutes. That's really annoying, as you can probably imagine, while playing back a recording and you want to skip through commercials.
    That's interesting because I can see the Seagate HDD inside the unit from the top vent slots, it is indeed a 160GB model and not a higher capacity model.

    I think it's most likely due to the firmware and the sata interface being used on the unit I have.
    Reply
  • scook9
    My FiOS boxes definitely are not impressing.....the software is pretty cumbersome to use and Verizon charges out the ass for them ($19/month for a multi-room HD-DVR - really Verizon? GO F*** thyself!)

    About 25% of my FiOS bill is leases for Set top boxes......
    Reply