Motorola’s Acquisition of Good Technology Might Trigger Nokia Move

In a move that caught its competitors and many market watchers off guard, Motorola announced today the acquisition of mobile-messaging software vendor Good Technology for an undisclosed sum.

Prior to the acquisition, Good and Motorola had worked together as technology partners. Good also had a technology partnership with Motorola rival Nokia.

Despite Nokia’s acquisition of Intellisync, which closed earlier this year, the company likely will feel compelled to answer Motorola’s acquisition with one of its own.

Among the candidates Nokia might consider are Visto, which has worked with the leading handset vendor to bring mobile email to Nokia’s mobile phones, and Seven Networks, which also has partnerships with Nokia and all the other major handset players. Neither Visto nor Seven would come at a cheap price, though much will depend on what Motorola actually paid for Good, which had attracted more than $200 million in funding since its inception.

To this point, Visto has gone through $267 million in funding during the past 10 years — including another round of $51 million announced in late September — but the company still isn’t profitable and is not likely to make a serious bid to go public until next year, if then. Visto has been litigiously aggressive, launching intellectual-property lawsuits against its major rivals.

Seven Networks reportedly has attracted more than $75 million in aggregate funding, which might give it more flexibility in negotiations with a potential acquirer.

Motorola’s acquisition of Good Technology also affects Research In Motion (RIM), though the Canadian purveyor of email devices and software is less exposed than Good’s software-only competitors because it generates so much of its revenue from sales of its handheld email devices.

Microsoft also might be affected by Motorola’s move, though my guess is that Microsoft will not have to acquire another vendor in the mobile space to address its strategic or tactical mobile-messaging requirements.

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