Google weighing twin bids for Motorola set-top box business

Google is weighing two bids for its unwanted Motorola set-top box business, insiders claim, with Pace and Arris Group believed to have emerged as primary suitors. The bidding – unspecified, but Google was believed to be looking for roughly $2bn back in August – could be complicated by certain restrictions Google wishes to implement, Bloomberg reports, such as maintaining a portion of the equity and the STB unit's patents.

Motorola Home Business was part of the Motorola Mobility portfolio which Google picked up earlier this year, but whispers out of the company shortly after suggested the company had no intention of keeping the division. Instead, it was believed to have retained Barclays Plc to handle a sale, recouping some of the $12.5bn it had spent on Motorola Mobility as a whole.

Whichever bidder is accepted, the deal could be announced before 2012 is out or – a 50/50 chance, insiders warn – be postponed until sometime in the new year. The complexity of the deal, and Google's provisos, is blamed for that uncertainty.

Ironically, Google could arguably make good use of a set-top box firm. Google TV, the company's attempt to broach the smart TV segment, has struggled to achieve traction, and Google's first own-brand STB, the Nexus Q (which bizarrely did not actually run Google TV), was discontinued prior to broad availability.

Instead, Google is apparently considering providing financing to prospective buyers of the division, likely keeping a foot in the door but minimizing its own hardware risk.