Ina Fried

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U.S. Carriers Silent on Motoroogle, but France Telecom Gives It a Thumbs Up

While there is much speculation on the effect that Google’s deal to buy Motorola Mobility would have on hardware makers, another interesting question is how it will affect its always delicate relationships with cellular carriers.

The major U.S. carriers have been silent Monday in the wake of the deal, but one major carrier — France Telecom’s Orange — tells AllThingsD that it supports the deal, with Senior Vice President Yves Maitre calling it “great news” for the industry.

“I believe it is always good to have very strong players and very integrated ones,” Maitre said in an interview. “We welcome strong competitors to Apple, and Motorola and Google will be this type of very strong competitor.”

Verizon, AT&T and Sprint all declined to comment. But rest assured, their silence does not equal a lack of interest. Though they once welcomed Android as an important counterbalance to Apple’s power, many wireless carriers have grown concerned that Google has also been exerting increasing control over Android. All have a huge interest in what happens to Android, which now makes up a significant chunk of their smartphone sales.

Google also once tried to make an end run around carriers by selling the Nexus One directly, though in recent years it has worked to restore its relationship with wireless firms.

For his part, Maitre sees Google’s Motorola deal as a continuation of a trend toward a tighter tie between phones and the operating systems that power them.

“I think the industry is going more and more vertical,” he said. “You have Apple, which has been doing vertical integration. Then we have Microsoft with the same through its partnership with Nokia.”

Maitre said competition is important, but said he is not concerned that the Motorola deal will leave Android and iPhone without decent rivals.

“The market will not let Apple and Google be alone,” he said, adding that the deal may force some of the other players in the industry to think about new arrangements, including potentially more acquisitions. “It’s difficult to say, but we may see some other partnership or takeover in the next six to nine months.”

Microsoft, meanwhile, is hoping the move will give it a needed boost in the market.

“Investing in a broad and truly open mobile ecosystem is important for the industry and consumers alike, and Windows Phone is now the only platform that does so with equal opportunity for all partners,” Windows Phone President Andy Lees said in a statement to AllThingsD.

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