Aug 16

Less than two weeks ago Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond wrote a blog post criticizing what he calls bogus patents. “Patents were meant to encourage innovation, but lately they are being used as a weapon to stop it.”

Yesterday Google announced that they are acquiring Motorola Mobility in order to “supercharge” Android. In the conference call with analysts they repeatedly emphasized the access to Motorola’s 17,000 patents. I’m assuming that these particular patents do not fall under the “bogus” category, and that their primary use will be to encourage innovation, and will not be used as weapons…

This transaction raises the software patent debacle to a whole new level of absurdity. Google is spending 12.5 billion dollars on something that will not create any new innovations. Not a single one. But what’s $12.5B for a rich company like Google? It’s actually the entire profit generated by Google over the past two years…

Some analysts say that Google had to do this to shore up their lagging “bogus” patent portfolio. But let’s leave the legal games to the lawyers and think about how $12.5B could be used to really supercharge innovation.

One criticism of the Android platform is that it lacks killer apps. So imagine if Google spent a billion or so on recreating the top 1,000 iPhone and iPad apps for Android. That might not make Android developers happy. So we’ll assume that they make all the code open source so that any developer can build upon the code and submit to the Android market. That will allow us to throw in the “open” buzzword into the mix too. Bonus!

But wait, copying existing iOS apps probably does not qualify as being innovative. Back to the drawing board…

Android tables are widely seen as lagging far behind the iPad in sales. So let’s seed the market with some subsidized Android tablets. That might “supercharge” the Android ecosystem. Say that a generic Android tablet costs $300 to manufacture and a consumer price of $99 will make them fly off the shelves. Spending $12.5B in subsidies would flood the market with 62,831,853 tablets. This move in itself is not very innovative, but it should definitely spur some activity and innovation among Android tablet developers.

Industrial design of Android devices and UI design of the Android OS could also use some refinement. How about hiring away some superstar talent? Jonathan Ive will probably not sell his soul for $12.5B, but how about one of the designers of the original iPhone UI? I bet that Facebook picked them up for a lot less. Create a separate company, just like Motorola Mobility is supposed to be run. Seed it with superstars and a few billion and see what innovations come out into the “open”.

So how will Googrola affect us iOS developers? My bet is: not at all. I can’t see how acquiring one of the larger, existing and money-losing Android licensees, will suddenly spur innovation, superchargers and wonderful user experiences. Besides, they are going to be very busy selling ads to pay for this acquisition.

written by Nick \\ tags: ,

One Response to “Google + Motorola Mobility == Innovation??”

  1. Marty Says:

    I agree with all your points. I wish Google thought differently with the assets they had.

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