Rat poison

The Google/Motorola deal is lawyer repellent. Or rat poison, if you prefer. It is a tragic and wasteful by product of our screwed-up patent system. Just this year, $18 billion is being spent not on innovation and invested not in entrepreneurship and growth but instead in fending off lawsuits. Damn straight, we need patent reform.

Having said that, this is good for Google and Android and its ecosystem. That’s why HTC, LG, and Sony all released statements praising the deal. Google isn’t going into competition with them. Google is buying them protection to defend against Apple, Nokia, and other patent holders and legal thugs.

The net result is that Android can now explode even more than it has already. I imagine — I hope — there were other companies in other fields — cars, appliances, TV, devices of all sorts — that were waiting for some security so they could add connectivity to their devices, using Android.

Google wins because, as I’ve been saying, the real war here is over signal generation: Google, Facebook, and to an extent Apple and telcos and others want us to generate signals about ourselves — who we are, where we are, what we want, who we know, what we’re looking for, where we’re going — so they can better target their content, services, and advertising. Mobile is a great signal generator.

But I’ve also been saying that mobile will become a meaningless word as we become connected everywhere, all the time. Who’s to say or care whether we’re connected with a phone as we walk, through our car, on our couch via the TV, in the kitchen via the iFridge, or at the desk (remember that?). Mobile=local=me.

I disagree with those who say that Google had hardware envy vis a vis Apple. Google went into the hardware business and was smart enough to get out. I imagine that Google will operate Motorola as an independent entity; it won’t become Googley. Indeed, I can imagine Google spinning off the product arm, keeping the rat poison.

So this is a good if unfortunate deal to have to be done. That’s my take.

  • Stan Hogan

    Looks like a huge risk to me. Has a smell of desperation.

  • MM

    What a constructive counter-argument. I’m sure you’ve convinced many readers opinions otherwise with your omnipotent insight, Rob.

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  • Can’t wait to here you and Gina discus this on TWiG this week.

    To bad Leo won’t be on, but I am sure Iyaz (filling in for Leo) can provide a different/new perspective.

  • Sandra Cook

    Are you going to be on twig this week? I wanna hear your rant!
    (wasn’t sure if that show was being phased out, but anyway… go out with a bang)

    Give it to ’em!

    Love the show. Can’t wait to read Private Parts on audible.com.

  • But Apple is better.

  • Buying Motorola is indeed a good deal for Google to protect their Android market. But again, it would be a long and windy journey for Google before they can get any kickback from the deal.

  • Richard Campbell

    I agree with your take, Jeff. As a Google shareholder, I’ve watched the shares get taken out and shot this week, and it’s even witnessed the dreaded S&P downgrade (which I’m now seeing as a contrary indicator), but besides the patent protection in the insane world of patent litigation we live in, I’m thinking that a little of Google’s innovation can rub off on Motorola, pushing them to near the head of the field in terms of phones, tablets, etc. It’s a lot of money, but chump change to Google.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Too bad about the culture thing. It’s gonna be ugly getting those two to see eye to eye.

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