The European Union has temporarily suspended its review of Google's proposed acquisition of Motorola Mobility to obtain more information from the companies as well as give third parties an opportunity to submit comments. After receiving formal notification of the deal late last month, the EU said the deal may fall within the scope of European Commission merger regulations.
Motorola Mobility, which has registered offices in fifteen European Union member states, declined to comment on the EU review suspension made public Monday. However, Google indicated that it is not concerned about the temporary suspension of the EU's anti-competition review.
"The European Commission has asked for more information, which is routine, while they review our Motorola Mobility acquisition," a Google spokesperson said Monday.
Still, the EU's invitation of comments from third parties could potentially lead to a lengthy review process. Google had previously expected the $12.5 billion transaction to close in late 2011 or early 2012.
Though Google declined to comment on how the review's suspension might affect the timing of its Motorola Mobility acquisition, the company maintained an upbeat attitude.
"We're confident the commission will conclude that this acquisition is good for competition and we'll be working closely and cooperatively with them as they continue their review," Google's spokesperson said.
Though many European activists have long been wary of the search-engine giant's online operations, Google has been working hard of late to improve its image on the continent. Last Thursday, for example, Google hosted a "big tent event" to promote Internet freedom in cooperation with the Dutch non-governmental organization Free Press Unlimited.
The event's participants included Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal as well as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who urged companies around the world to help protect Internet freedom. She also called upon equipment and software makers to cease selling technology that allows repressive regimes around the world to censor the Net, spy on Internet users and impose national controls that place people in a "series of digital bubbles rather than connecting them."
In partnership with European companies and institutions, Google has also been participating in a drive to help ISPs, regulators and consumers improve Internet services across the European Union. Overall, the online search-giant's European efforts are helping to build good will among activists and regulators at the very time when its bid for Motorola Mobility is beginning to come under closer scrutiny.
Among other things, Google needs Motorola Mobility's patents to help defend Android in its intellectual property disputes with mobile platform rivals Apple and Microsoft. With Motorola's mobile patents under its wing, Google's Android handset and tablet partners HTC, LG, Samsung and Sony would also be less vulnerable to patent-based lawsuits.
Still, recent events have demonstrated that Google will need to work even closer with its manufacturing partners to ensure that its Android customers remain positive about the platform. Google has so far disappointed European smartphone buyers who had been expecting a flawless launch of Google's next-generation Android 4.0 platform, called Ice Cream Sandwich.
Many purchasers of the new Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0 have experienced erratic audio level changes since the device's European debut last month, noted Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi.
"Issues with the volume have negatively impacted sales as some operators have decided to wait till a fix is issued," Milanesi said. "Aside from the complaints, I have not heard much about the device. We'll see how things ramp up for Christmas."