Feeds

Has Google wasted $12bn on a dud patent poker-chip?

Larry Page's Moto bluff fails to convince

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Google's innovations got lost in the Lab

The bigger problem is that Android is blatantly a copycat, but didn't need to be. Google took a shortcut to get into the handset business, making decisions that were largely avoidable. Why didn't Google develop its own language and platform? The company is full of brilliant engineers, many of whom have mobile platform experience, and who have created some of the milestones in computer history. Why not use Go, the language Ken Thompson helped develop? Or something like it? Or less ambitiously, why not use Gtk and build on it, much as Nokia did with Maemo/Meego? You may have heard of one or two of these.

By innovating, and donating the innovation into the platform, Google could have avoided its IP woes altogether. But rather like a super-rich, spoiled child, Google seemed to be unaware of the issues it was getting into, and now thinks it can buy its way out.

Well, maybe it can, maybe it can't.

Just because Android has the look and feel of a knock-off doesn't mean Google will necessarily pay the price in court. IP lawsuits are a crapshoot. Anything can happen. But on an objective analysis you have to say that the odds don't look good for Google, and they don't look much better if the Motorola acquisition goes through for reasons I've explained above. The purchase will leave Google $12.5bn poorer and with indigestion from swallowing one of corporate America's most dysfunctional bureaucracies. (Remember, Motorola was run by three generations of the founder's family – that's about as un-Googley as you can get.)

Earlier I mentioned the obvious flaw of the deal: the golden rule that says platform suppliers don't compete directly with their customers. I'll return to this again, but I wanted to point out that chanting the mantra "it's all about patents" needs a bit of qualification. It might not be about anything, other than a lack of grown-up thinking, and consistently poor executive leadership.

Deal of the Century... for Moto

Hats off again to Motorola's leadership, though. The company has been trying to sell its phone division for over three-and-a-half years – and nobody wanted to know. "Who would buy a loss-making mobile maker?" we asked in 2008.

Moto merely had to whisper to Google: "We can solve your patent woes," and its shareholders were rewarded beyond their wildest hopes. Google's offer price has a huge premium over the market's valuation of what Motorola is worth.

With the right timing and the right sales seduction, it is amazing what the right mug punter can be prepared to pay. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.