Google (goog) was not the only company that discussed an acquisition of Motorola Mobility Solutions (mmi), multiple sources tell Fortune. The search giant earlier today agreed to buy MMI for $12.5 billion, but declined to say whether or not it had been a competitive process.
"Motorola Mobility's bankers [Quatalyst Partners and Centerview Partners] brought some other folks in to kick the tires," one source says. "I don't know if they had serious interest, or if it was just a stalking horse to drive up the price."
No suitors have yet been identified, although speculation has centered on HP and Dell. [Update: Om Malik is reporting that Microsoft was involved.] It also is unclear if anyone other than Google made a formal offer to buy MMI.
All of this should be sorted out soon in regulatory filings, but a quick piece of idle speculation while we wait:
Is it possible that Google itself considered working with a third party? I hear that its negotiations involved several different machinations, and wonder if one was that Google would buy MMI's patents and someone else would buy the hardware (plus a long-term licensing agreement). After all, it still is hard to swallow that Android OEMs like HTC and Samsung are really okay with Google's new plan to effectively compete with itself (no matter what they said this morning in official statements).