France Telecom (FT) Orange is the first major operator to label Google's proposed $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility "great news" for the mobile industry.
"I believe it is always good to have very strong players and very integrated ones," Yves Maitre, a senior vice president at FT Orange, said in an interview with AllThingsD. "We welcome strong competitors to Apple, and Motorola and Google will be this type of very strong competitor."
Maitre said he sees Google's purchase of Motorola as a continuation of a trend towards greater integration between handsets and operating systems."I think the industry is going more and more vertical," he said. "You have Apple, which has been doing vertical integration. Then we have Microsoft with the same through its partnership with Nokia."
Despite that, exec said he doesn't believe the market will leave Apple and Google without rivals, and that more deals may be in the works. "It's difficult to say, but we may see some other partnership or takeover in the next six to nine months."
This speculation was echoed in the sharply rising share prices of Nokia and Research In Motion given their proven capabilities in developing handsets, and, perhaps more importantly, the portfolio of patents held by each company.
Other operators have issued somewhat cautious statements on the deal. In the US, Verizon Communications, which owns Verizon Wireless with Vodafone, said it hoped the deal will help cool the smartphone patent wars. "We will be looking with interest as further details of the proposed transaction become clear," John Thorne, Verizon's senior vice president and deputy general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal. "But, at first glance, to the extent that this deal might bring some stability to the ongoing smartphone patent disputes, that would be a welcome development."
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