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Google & Motorola: A Match Made in Purgatory

During much of last year, Motorola’s top executives had one message for Google CEO Larry Page: If he didn’t go “all in” on Motorola, the Google-owned handset maker would barely make a dent against industry leaders Samsung Electronics and Apple.

In monthly operating meetings with Mr. Page at Motorola’s Silicon Valley office, numerous Motorola executives complained about Google’s lack of support for the subsidiary, according to three people who attended such meetings. The Motorola team wanted to spend more money on advertising, tie the Google brand more tightly to Motorola and better leverage Google’s technology–such as its artificial intelligence software–to improve the Motorola smartphones.

Mr. Page’s response was noncommittal. Sometimes he said that such issues would be “evaluated” but then never resolved them, one of these people says. “He wanted to let things play out,” says another employee who was in on the meetings.

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Some hiring managers enticed recruits by suggesting that Google might eventually adopt a more Apple-like model by fully integrating Motorola’s hardware with Google’s software and give it a leg up on competitors.