By Max Clarke

Google have agreed to purchase Motorola’s smartphone branch, Motorola Mobility, for a purported $12.5 billion.

The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem and will enhance competition in mobile computing. Motorola Mobility will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. Google will run Motorola Mobility as a separate business.

“Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies,” said Larry Page, Google’s CEO. “Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.”

Android smartphones have exploded in popularity over the past year, with an estimated 550,000 devices registered daily. Goole’s purchase marks its first decisive move into smartphone hardware manufacture, though the web-giant assures that the operating system is to remain an open source platform, with their new subsidiary remaining just one of the 39 manufacturers licensed to the platform.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals in the US, the European Union and other jurisdictions, and the approval of Motorola Mobility’s stockholders. The transaction is expected to close by the end of 2011 or early 2012.