Even though Motorola's mobile business lost more than $100 million during the last quarter of 2012, Google executives during today's financial earnings call said they plan to hang onto the handset business and use it to try and drive more innovation throughout the mobile industry.
"We are 180 days into this journey and we've made a ton of progress, including the sale of the Home business," said Google CFO Patrick Pichette, referring to the Motorola business unit that makes TV set top boxes. It has also restructured the business and laid off about 4,000 people.
"I'd like to remind everyone that we inherited 12 to 18 months of a product pipeline that we have to work through," he said. Google will need to get through these currently planned products before it can rebuild a new product pipeline, he said.
"We are optimistic but it does take time. It's the nature of the beast while we reinvent a business," he said.
CEO Larry Page also said he has high hopes for Motorola. "We're excited about the business of Motorola," he said. "We're really in the early days of Motorola, with respect to Google's acquisition of it."
He seemed to hint at the types of development that the company hopes to focus on with Motorola. "The opportunities are endless. Battery life is a huge issue. You shouldn’t have to worry about constantly recharging your phone. When you drop the phone, it shouldn't go splat… There's a real potential to invent a new and better experience," he said.
He said he's pleased about the way Motorola is approaching product development and the speed of execution.
At least one analyst was underwhelmed by Page's vision. "Um, so the value of Motorola is a breakthrough battery technology?" Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner analyst, wrote on Twitter.
When Google announced plans to buy Motorola, Page said they were primarily interested in Motorola's extensive patent portfolio. Google and OEMs using Android have been tied up in lawsuits with other mobile phone and mobile software companies and Motorola's patents were supposed to help Google defend Android against these attacks.
That, plus grumbling from some Android handset partners, led some analysts to predict that Google might eventually sell off the mobile business -- but so far, that's not happening.