Google's $12.4 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility was widely seen as a way for Google to acquire patents to defend its Android operating system from intellectual property lawsuits.
Yet Motorola hasn't given up on making phones.
In August, it started selling the Moto X, the first smartphone assembled in the United States. By manufacturing the phone closer to its customers, Motorola can offer unprecedented customization.
Last month, the Moto G came out, targeted at budget-conscious Americans and people in emerging markets. The phone, which has a high-resolution screen and other features found in leading smartphones, starts at $179 in the U.S., compared with the $600-plus price tag on the typical high-end smartphone.
Even with its new phone lineup, Motorola remains in transition. The company enjoyed strong sales after introducing the Razr flip phone in 2004. But it struggled to develop another hit. Under Google, it has lost nearly $2 billion and trimmed its workforce from 20,000 to about 3,800.
Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside, a Google veteran who took the helm in May 2012 with the Internet company's takeover, sat down with The Associated Press to talk about Motorola, its products and its vision for making the Internet affordable and accessible to everyone. Questions and answers have been edited for length.
Q: A lot of people know Motorola for early cellphones and the Razr line. Today, how would you describe Motorola?
A: Our product is not necessarily the hardware, but the mobile Web. Our mission is to provide access to hundreds of millions of people, if not billions over time, to mobile services.
With Moto G, you're starting to see the strategy. You have a product that spec for spec does stand up to an iPhone at one-fourth the price.
Q. Why couldn't Motorola as a stand-alone company move in that direction?
A. Google gives Motorola a couple things. One is that willingness to have a long-term vision that's bold, and really encouraging us to have that vision, and giving us the capital to make the transition.
You also have to (believe in) the long-run value of having everybody connected on high-quality devices that can access all the services that we're used to. Only Google has that long-term mindset.
Q: Where does Google end and Motorola begin?
A: Although Google is our shareholder, Motorola is going to operate independently.
Our (technology) systems are separate. That actually imposes costs on us. We'd love to be able to leverage Google's data centers and internal tools. But because Android is a platform available to all (phone makers), if we had any IT access, that independence could be breached. We get the code for the next-version Android at the same time as everybody else. (continued...)
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