In Larry Page’s explanation of why Google is paying $12.5 billion for Motorola one thing stands out above the rest: his references to Motorola’s patents and IP.The first sentence in his second paragraph says, “Motorola has a history of over 80 years of innovation in communications technology and products, and in the development of intellectual property, which have helped drive the remarkable revolution in mobile computing we are all enjoying today.”
And he ends his post by saying:
We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.
Otherwise, the post does little to explain why Google is jumping into the hardware business. Perhaps it’s because mobile advertising is a crappy business. Maybe it’s because Google wants to have more control over the hardware process. It’s not entirely clear from the blog post.
But what is clear is that Google saw an opportunity to buy a ton of patents to protect itself and its partners, AND get a decent business attached to it.
It sure seems like a better investment than $4.5 billion for Nortel patents. Or paying that much for Interdigital’s patents.
But is it worth the risk of irking its other hardware partners like Samsung and HTC? We’ll find out.