Why Did Google Buy Motorola? Not Sure Google Knows the Answer
By: Hillel Fuld
If you came to this post for an answer to the question in the title, you can close this tab now. After spending a nice amount of time reading up on this shocking new acquisition across tens of articles, it is clear that nothing about this deal is clear.
There are so many question marks surrounding the basic question "What on heaven's earth was Google thinking when it decided to buy Motorola Mobility"? To add insult to injury, what was Google thinking to pay such a ridiculously premium price of $12.5 billion for a company that was near bankrupt and has not shown any real innovation in the mobile space for years?
Let me just back up a bit and say that Motorola has released some new and even slightly impressive products in the last few years like the Motorola Atrix, but clearly, that is not the kind of thing Google was after in this acquisition. So why the purchase and why the high price tag?
Is Google Reconsidering its Open Policy?
No one really knows what Google was thinking, but what we do know is that Android is a mess. It is a mess for developers who have to create multiple versions of the same app to support all Android versions and devices. It is a mess for consumers that get a different Android depending on what kind of phone they have. Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and others all apply their own customization to Android, and why not? After all, it is open for a reason, right?
Of course, I don't expect this to happen, but what if Google intends to push Android on Motorola devices exclusively or use this new property to better control the whole Android ecosystem by telling the rest of the players "We don't need you anymore to distribute our OS, so chill out on the customization factor". It is a long shot, but can this deal put some Apple-like control on the hugely fragmented world of Android?
OK, let's just get this out of the way. The consensus among the tech community seems to be that Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola's rich portfolio of 25,000 patents. Now, we know all too well how hot the patents war has gotten over the past year, but this theory leaves me asking one question. Why buy the company and not just the patents? That would have saved Google a whole lot of money instead of spending two years of profit on a company that makes great walkie talkies. (Yes, I know that unit is not part of the acquisition)
Well, out of all the posts I have read about this topic, John Gruber's is the best, by far. John addressed this topic by saying "I think Motorola knew they had Google by the balls. Google needed Motorola’s patent library to defend Android as a whole, Motorola knew it, and they made Google pay and pay handsomely. I don’t think it’s curious at all why Google didn’t simply license Motorola’s patents."
Gruber's post is clearly focused on the patents angle and there is no doubt that patents played a major role in this acquisition. Having said that, something tells me Google has bigger plans here and they involve direct competition with a company that happens to be based in Cupertino.
Another great analysis of the patents game, which basically explains why this purchase of Motorola and its patents will pretty much save Android from Apple and Microsoft, can be found on BGR.
How Google Operates
Sometimes I wonder about Google and if at some point someone sat everyone down and formulated a decision that the company would from here on out release products that are half baked, make decisions that are not well planned, and somehow hope for the best. I am sure such an event took place in one format or another.
Take a look at some of the company's products and you will see a clear pattern, they are the complete opposite of Apple products when it comes to the user experience. Yes, Google+ is the perfect example and yes, I know it is Beta, along with many other Google products we all know and love.
Well, something tells me this Motorola acquisition needs a nice big Beta tag on it as well. As if someone said "Let's buy Motorola and figure out what to do with it later". Or perhaps Google bought Motorola because of this.
Jokes aside, will Google actually enter the hardware space and directly compete with Apple? Will they just license the patents and completely ignore Motorola as a hardware manufacturer? No one really knows and everyone is busy speculating.
Having said that, something tells me this Google decision was no different than its products and past decisions. Or in other words, Google itself has no clue what it plans on doing with Motorola or why it just spent two years of its hard earned advertising profits on a company that stinks from mediocrity, and has for years.
Am I underestimating the company? Do they know exactly what they are doing? I guess only time will tell... What is for sure, the entire story is summed up perfectly and hillariously in a comment on the TechCrunch post that broke the original story. The comment reads "Moto to Google: Do you really like me or are you just trying to get into my patents?"