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Google's Motorola deal could reshape Asian phone market

Asian handset makers may turn to Microsoft Windows instead of Google's operating system Android after the Google-Motorola deal.

The $12.5bn acquisition of Motorola Mobility by Google could turn the internet search giant from a partner to a competitor for mother than 30 other Android-handset companies.

"The deal will make most Android players realise how dependent they are on Google and how quickly Google's plans can change their businesses," said Francisco Jeronimo, an analyst at research firm IDC.

Google has been propelled to the top of the global mobile software market due to companies like HTC and Samsung Electronics which have sold millions of mobile devices running on the free Android device.

Microsoft Windows however could potentially benefit from the acquisition if it alienates the other phone makers that rely on Android.

Android held a 43.4 percent share of the smartphone market at the end of the second quarter, ahead of Nokia's 22 per cent, while Apple is third with 18 per cent, according to data from research firm Gartner.

Shares in Motorola's Asia's suppliers have jumped after the deal.

Foxconn International, the world's top contract cellphone maker, which counts Motorola as a client, surged as much as 17 per cent on prospects of more business from the new combination.

Shares of Compal Communications and Arima Communications were among a slew of Motorola suppliers that hit the seven per cent daily limit in Taiwan.

"Everybody is betting on a Motorola turnaround. Motorola will get more help from Google to push its Android handsets with the deal," said Yuanta Securities analyst Bonnie Chang in Taipei.

"Outsourcing companies such as Foxconn International and Compal Communications will benefit directly the most."

Shares in Samsung, which has businesses from chips to TVs and energy as well as phones, ended 6.1 per cent higher in a broader market up 4.8 per cent in post-holiday trade on Tuesday.

LG Electronics edged up 0.3 percent, while HTC closed up 3.1 per cent in a Taiwan market down 0.3 per cent.

Some brokers said the Motorola deal could be Google's way to provide support to Android players.

Phone makers and software firms are involved in copy-cat lawsuits in the fierce battle over who owns patents used in mobile devices, with Apple going after Android device makers.

"We suspect that Google will now try to provide an umbrella for the Android community that provides IP protection from key rivals such as Apple and Microsoft," Nomura said in a note.

"This is broadly how Microsoft protects Windows Phone.

"We do not believe that Google will aim to continue to make handsets long term, but will rather look to spin the business out to an Android partner -- such as Huawei, LG, ZTE, for example."

Globally, HTC has been a standout winner after being the first to roll out a Android-backed smartphone, leaving it most exposed to any shift in the landscape, analysts said.

Nearly all of its smartphones run on Android but it also has a long-standing partnership with Microsoft.

"HTC and Samsung are companies Google can trust but not control to drive market share," Chang said.

"If in the long run Google decides HTC and Samsung have very different business roadmaps, it may want to leverage on Motorola to gain market share."

HTC said in May it plans to bring out phones based on Microsoft's new Mango Windows phone software.

However HTC said this week the Google-Motorola deal would not affect its partnership with Google.

"This is a positive development to the Android ecosystem, which we believe is beneficial to HTC's promotion of Android phones," HTC said in a statement.

"The partnership between HTC and Google remains strong and will not be affected by this acquisition."

Some of the fast-growing Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE are also betting on Android.

Huawei, known for its low-cost cellphones, is looking to replicate its telecom gear success in the smartphone market as it takes on the likes of Nokia, Apple and Samsung.

Samsung became the world's No.2 smartphone maker in the second quarter with a 19.2 per cent market share.

HTC is ranked fifth with 12.1 per cent, according to Strategy Analytics, while Apple is the top smartphone vendor.

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