Google spent $4.9 million yesterday to buy dozens of patents owned by defunct Israeli mobile phone maker Modu.
Modu had a brief moment in the spotlight when the company showed off its miniature mobile phones at Mobile World Congress in February 2008. The company’s founder, Dev Moran, was cocky enough to think that Modu would beat Nokia, saying “all Nokia can do is go the church on Sunday and pray” and slamming the Nokia booth for being “boring.”
Turns out he was right, but Modu wasn’t the reason — Apple and Android did a lot more to send Nokia on its current decline. Modu’s tiny phones never took off, and the company finally went bankrupt early this year.
Google could be buying the patents to boost Android — maybe we’ll see a new line of tiny Android phones, or maybe the patents can help with the new effort to convince developers to build more Android peripherals.
But more likely, Google is building its patent portfolio to protect against lawsuits from Apple, Microsoft, and other companies who have gone after Android resellers. $5 million is a cheap way to start.
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