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More work ahead for Motorola, says Google

Motorola Mobility is a work in progress, Google executives said, warning investors that the search giant is still working through 12-18 months of product plans it inherited from the phone manufacturer.

"We're excited about the business," Google CEO Larry Page, still hoarse from some recent voice troubles, said during a fourth-quarter earnings call on Tuesday. "[But] we're really in the early days of Motorola with respect to Google's acquisition of it."

Google announced plans to acquire Motorola Mobility in August 2011, a deal that closed in May 2012. As a result, Google has only officially had Motorola under its wing for just over six months, which Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, was quick to point out.

"We're not in the business of losing money with Motorola," Pichette said today. "[But] we are really 180 days into this journey and we've made a ton of progress," he said, citing the recent sale of Motorola Mobility's set top box division for $2.35 billion (£1.5 billion) and ongoing restructuring efforts.

"I just want to remind everybody that we inherited 12-18 months of product pipeline that we have to work through," Pichette continued.

Once the pre-Google work is out of Motorola's system, the team there - led by Dennis Woodside - will "rebuild the new product pipeline," Pichette said. "It does take time before it shows up." It's the "nature of the beast" when you reinvent the business.

In late December, there were reports that that reinvention included the development of a new smartphone, the so-called X Phone, that's designed to up the ante against hotshot smartphone competitor Apple.

Earlier this month, however, Motorola's patent tactics came back to bite Google when the Federal Trade Commission ordered Google and Motorola to stop seeking product injunctions over standard-essential patents.

Motorola and other handset makers have struggled to battle Android behemoth Samsung, which beat Nokia last year for the first time in 14 years to become the biggest mobile phone vendor of 2012. That, of course, puts Android maker Google in a somewhat sticky situation: keep Samsung - its biggest Android player - happy or fight the good fight with Motorola, in which it has a financial stake. Whatever the outcome, Google has insisted that its Android partners will not get the short end of the stick just because it owns Motorola; stay tuned to see if that becomes a reality.

In other Google news, meanwhile, Page was asked about the future of Google Fiber, another project he said was still in the early stages. Pichette chimed in to say that Google Fiber was "not a hobby" and that Google was indeed looking into expanding to other cities. But first, Google has "to nail Kansas City" - the only city in which Google Fiber is currently available. "It's the perfect place to de-bug" before expanding, he said.

Page also talked up Google Maps, arguing that "we already make a bit of money on Maps" thanks to search. But he acknowledged that Google is in the "early stages of monetization on the Maps themselves."

When asked about Facebook's Graph Search, meanwhile, Page championed the hard work Google has done on its own search engine over the past decade, and said he was "very confident" that Google can get the information people really want.