Monday, August 15, 2011

Google To Acquire Motorola Mobility - Sad

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard that Google has agreed to acquire Motorola Mobility (yeah, the part of Motorola that builds the phone handsets) for $12.5 billion in cash (at $40 per share -  a 63% premium over the market close price on Friday).

I know, right?

It's clear that Google is buying the moto unit, not to expand their market share, not to get into the handset business, not to add shareholder value - but to get their trove of 14,600 patents (and the 6,700+ pending patents).

Personally, I think it's an extremely sad state of affairs.

Clearly, Google feels threatened by the Oracle lawsuit, and the Apple lawsuit and the Microsoft lawsuit. All these large, deep-pocketed, industry leaders are trying to do a single thing: sue the Android operating system into oblivion over patent rights - OR, at the very least, make Google pay a patent "toll" for the right to distribute the operating system for free.

Why are they not going after Palm's WebOS? Or Symbian? Both of those are free (and open) as well.

The answer is: they don't matter. They have no market share. They have no mind share. They have a small installed base.

On the other hand, Android commands a majority of not only the phone market (Apple hates that - as does Microsoft), but they're starting to make noises about making inroads into the tablet market (Apple clearly doesn't want that) - and Oracle is laughing their asses off since they acquired Sun (the folks that invented Java and hold key patents to the underlying technology).

So - what's a company with $39 billion in cash to do? Sure! Buy a patent rich handset company that will be - according to Larry Page on a Google conference call this morning:
I’m really excited about this deal. There are competencies that aren’t core to us, but we plan to operate it as a separate business, so they have competency there. I’m really excited about protecting and supporting the Android ecosystem.
Thump (other shoe dropping).

TRANSLATION: "We don't know the phone business and don't care. Motorola has been struggling and their getting their lunch eaten by HTC anyway. The handset business will do whatever.... the main thing is - we got their patents before someone else did."

So here's the latest tally: patent trolls 3; innovation: 0.

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