Google has clinched the final regulatory approvals required for its $12.5 billion (€9.7 billion) acquisition of Motorola Mobility and its trove of mobile patents.
China's Ministry of Commerce approved the merger on Saturday, removing the final roadblock to Google making the purchase and bolstering Android's defense against patent infringement claims. However, the ministry gave the proviso that Google must agree to keep its Android smartphone operating system free and openly available to handset OEMs over the next five years, Associated Press reports.
The condition is likely aimed at addressing concerns that Google may give preferential access to the Android platform to its own handset making subsidiary. But a report by the Wall Street Journal indicates that Google is planning to go in the opposite direction with its Android handset efforts, and make early access to Android builds available to a wider range of handset partners.
Google made its move for Motorola Mobility in August – a deal widely considered to be aimed primarily at giving the company the ability to help its Android allies defend against patent suits brought by competitors such as Apple.
But the announcement sparked fears that Google may end up competing head on with other Android handset makers, and that its control over the platform would reduce the OEMs' ability to compete.