What Did Nokia CEO Mean By “Signs Of Danger” In Google-Motorola Deal?

Andy Rubin

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said today that if he were an Android partner, he’d be calling “certain Google executives” Google right now and saying “I see signs of danger.”

Seems like an innocent comment — after all, Elop has to feel pretty smart about choosing Microsoft over Google for his company’s big platform shift.

But there’s another possibility: he might have been saying, “I see signs of Danger.”

Danger was the company that Andy Rubin founded in the late 1990s, and it built the popular Sidekick phone. But Rubin got booted as CEO in 2002, so he left to found his own company, Android, which Google bought a couple years later.

In 2008, Microsoft bought Danger and promptly squandered its people on the ill-fated Kin phone.

So if Elop meant “Danger” instead of “danger,” he could have been saying two things at once:

  • Google’s purchase of Motorola is going to turn out as badly as Microsoft’s buy of Danger
  • Andy Rubin’s days as the leader of Android are numbered. Crazy? Maybe, but earlier this year, Rubin hired a couple of his former Danger partners and was rumoured to be building  a hardware business for Google — a project that now is rendered irrelevant by the Motorola deal — and Rubin was apparently not involved in the Motorola negotiations until they’d been under way for several weeks, according to Om Malik. At the very least, it will be interesting to see what role Google gives to Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha.

In case you think we’re reading too much into Elop’s choice of words, there’s some history here: a few days before Nokia announced it was picking Windows Phone over Android, Google exec Vic Gundotra spilled the beans with a well-timed tweet saying “Two turkeys do not make an eagle.” That itself was a reference to a comment from a former Nokia exec about a different deal.

These guys play like that.

See also: The Dumbest Acquisitions In The History Of Tech.