Feeds

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

It's all about patents, says Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page. Google insists that it bought Motorola to shore up its Android platform, which is caught in a litigious pincer movement from old buddies Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison. Microsoft is merely egging them on the sidelines as the manbags fly, shouting: "Fight!" But …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

Blimey

You read through those 24,500 patents quickly.

47
2
Devil

My point exactly

The reason Microsoft wanted them was not wireless and there _ARE_ UI and media patents there. They are just not where Andrew and other analysts look. They are in the pile of leftovers from the days when Motorola did Windows STBs and was Microsoft chosen partner (and primary IPTV platform vendor). There are patents on streaming, how it interacts with mobile network, media UI, you name it. These are probably cross-licensed for life with Microsoft, but not with Apple. If these are a part of the deal it just got "curiouser and curiouser"

Similarly, there are two types of wireless patents - patents on technology and patents on implementation related optimisations like power consumption reduction techniques, etc. The latter is not pooled and is once again enough to blow a huge whole under the waterline in any of the opponents.

That is off the top of my head and I am familiar with only probably a few 10s of the patents in that 25K loot.

3
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Anonymous Coward

Useless patents

Power consumption reduction techniques? I remember how Motorola handled that. Their Triplets series phones used to sleep through GSM pages in order to save battery power. That works great until the phone is in a weak signal area. Then the phone begins to miss calls altogether. They ended up recalling their top-of-the-line V600 here in the 'States because of it.

And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all of their patents are meaningless, but I don't really see Google gaining much out of this deal. I do see them losing a lot, however. Motorola did make some other good phones back in the day, but since smartphones have become mainstream Motorola hasn't offered anything that interests me anymore.

0
0
WTF?

WTF?

"Google didn't take IP seriously, bidding silly numbers" - what the f@ck does this mean? Its silly that a patent is worth that much? Or have you joined the bandwagon that says bidding in non-integers means that you dont want to win?

18
5
Anonymous Coward

I was thinking that

A silly number would be bidding $1 for Motorola.

A funny number would be bidding £8008135.

If you'd pay £3Bn for something, and have loads of cash lying about, why NOT bid $3.14159265358Bn for it?

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Google Numbers

I don't know why people are so baffled by Google's bids. Google has always done everything with regard to mathematics. I was reading the blog of a former Google employee a few weeks ago. She stated that she quit on 3/14, because "nothing is done at Google without math in mind." That's just the corporate culture.

0
0
ich
Holmes

hail to the great analysts

Was one of the analysts you've spoken to Florian Mueller by any chance? Surely a very unbiased source that you guys seem to rely upon quite frequently.

14
3

@ich

Depressingly, El Florio correctly predicted Google would be forced to buy Motorola Mobile because of the IP conflicts with Droid and OHA partners...but I suppose he could have entirely changed tune in the intervening days since his License to Kill posting.

3
1
Megaphone

Much FUD now

Many haters out there

3
0
Anonymous Coward

hate

Yes we do hate slow cr*ppy android code that kills your battery and needs 2 core and 2GB to run!.

Will be interesting to see how their partners really feel and they don't flee en masse to very promising windows phone, unless Google only bought Moto as a sacrificial cow for the rest of the partners and expect it to be loss making in the foreseeable future.

2
7
Stop

LOL

Clearly you havn't actually seen a Windows Phone 7, as you wouldn't be saying such crazy crap. Windows Phone 7 (and 7.5) is a truly horrific platform, and it shows, as nobody uses it, and has barely any app support either.

2
2

I have

Have you? I have been using one for the past 6 months and I take my word is faster than the androids running double the hardware. With Mango will be really excellent.

1
1
Thumb Down

Google legal vs Reg hack

I suspect that the Google legal bods probably considered all this for longer than the 5 hours between the takeover announcement and this article.

43
2

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Bronze badge

Does Motorola have any interesting Sun or Oracle licences?

I could have this all wrong, but evidently Android's Dalvik uses mostly material from Java that is licensed for free re-use, although not with the Java name. Oracle's lawsuit is substantially on the basis that parts of Android's development are not covered by the liberal - but not totally liberal - licence terms of Java, and therefore infringe.

So maybe the Motorola handset business comes with some additional licensing?

Although that wouldn't necessarily help retrospectively?

Or perhaps it will?

Anyway, it is evidently quite normal for any U.S. or global company to be sued by competitors. This legal business is carrying on all the time, and customers shouldn't worry about it. You may need to have a Plan B in case the provider of your product implodes, due to losing a lawsuit badly, but you would do, anyway.

2
2
Happy

Doesn't Motorola Mobility have a Java licence?

AFAIK the Razr phones could run Java ME apps, soooo... 2+2=4?

;-)

0
0
Devil

Do not forget Moto was in the CPU business before SUN....

And Moto Mobility has co-ownership of all old Moto IP, including the parts which are now known as Freescale and OnSemi. There is a pretty good chance some SUN silicon is very close to one or another of Moto patents on memory interface, bus architecture, cache coherency, etc. and somebody at Google may be a lot more motivated to pursue litigation against Oracle then old Motorola or new Freescale ever was....

4
0

Indeed

The first Sun (tm) workstations had Motorola 68k CPUs. (Those were the days ... when the city of Atlantis stood serene above the sea ... :)

2
0
Silver badge

Love it!

$12.5b... wasted?

Well like they say, "easy come, easy go!"

Articles do not get more enjoyable than this!

3
6
Silver badge
Mushroom

This is just sad.

Google finally decides to play along with all of the other crass corporations and the fanboys still try to find some way to denigrate those that dare to play in Apple's playground.

10
13
Silver badge

Motorola 'invented' cell phones

>But have a look where Motorola patents' strengths are: radio engineering and design.

Who is to say there isn't a patent saying something like "making a telephone without wires"?

that with a few continuation filings could still be valid.

But more importantly it's a good-ol American company from Illinois, that will look good to a judge in Easty Texas - which is all that matters in business today.

6
1
Silver badge
Linux

A Yankee in East Texas...

Being a Yankee in the podunk parts of Texas is not necessarily a strength.

Such a company might be viewed as equivalent to any other foreign company.

4
1
Anonymous Coward

Prior Art?

Alexander Graham Bell made a telephone witihout wires. You can see it in the (aptly titled) Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Nova Scotia.

0
0
J 3
Coat

Yeah, but...

Is it worse than being a Californian, are you sure?

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Gtk??? Serious??

Andrew dear, go ask Google engineers how much sweat they poured over building Chrome for Linux with Gtk. Read their blogs, their rants. Have you ever tried to build Gtk these days? have you seen how insane is its list of dependencies? So why would Google use it?

Nokia didn't want to touch Gtk with a stick! they simply preferred something a bit more documented and organized.. it's called Qt.

25
1
Bronze badge

Using the API????

AFAIK what he's actually suggesting is that they should have used the API and then written their code 'underneath it' instead of providing something based on the Java API (with their own VM, compiler etc).

0
0
FAIL

Nonsense

Inventing your own language or making he UI different wouldn't help. Software patents are so broad and trivial that everybody infringes on everything. You can't avoid them. The only way to stay in the game is to have your own portfolio of obvious patents to wave about.

So the defensive patent portfolio doesn't need to be of high quality either. Just enough force the other side to settle instead of risking a fate similar to Samsung.

The Nokia example is actually pretty informative. Sure Apple only ended up paying 400M or so, but without Nokia's patent portfolio Nokia would have had to pay Apple instead. Obviously the strategy worked for Nokia.

20
1

"Why didn't Google develop its own language and platform?"

Java (as much as people dislike it) is popular, it has good developer support and decent open source tools.

There's a lot of software that can (and has) been ported over fairly quickly.

Dalvik is used because Java is slow and bloated.

..That's probably the reason.

Probably a bit too early to see why Google bought Motorola. But negative speculation from Mr Orlowski always seems to draw in the comments.

8
2
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

Java (as much as people dislike it) is popular

Popular and disliked!

> Dalvik is used because Java is slow and bloated.

> ..That's probably the reason.

I'm going to completely ignore the remark about java being slow and move straight on. I'd say one of the main reasons is so they didn't have to license it from Sun.

2
2
Bronze badge

@vic 4

"I'd say one of the main reasons is so they didn't have to license it from Sun."

I reckon it was to build a locked in app store thing to capture more of the advertising market. Using straight Java would have allowed any old Android customer to use any old app market without troubling Google's servers and their accompanying adverts.

1
4

@bazza

" Using straight Java would have allowed any old Android customer to use any old app market without troubling Google's servers and their accompanying adverts"

... you can do that today with Dalvik as well?

2
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

re: Using straight Java would have allowed ...

> Using straight Java would have allowed any old Android customer to use any old app market

Ignoring the fact anyone can do that now with dalvik why couldn't you. If you define the API and what apps can do you prevent whatever you want, its an implementation issue.

However google are not interested in doing that, simple as that.

1
0
Silver badge

"Copycats"

The reason to use Java (as the language) was it allowed leveraging of a massive amount of existing tools and libraries. For example Eclipse is a great IDE so using Java immediately gives the SDK a leg up. Dalvik is also pretty much capable of using any 3rd party J2SE library of which there are a multitude.

There is no doubt that iPhone & Android share a far degree of similar touch based mechanics. However Android's desktop really is nothing like the one in iOS except on the most superficial level. Users can arrange layouts, they can install widgets. Apps are not so much monolithic apps that run at the expense of other apps as they are things which can be strung together. And things like multitasking are well thought out and implemented. The difference is even more pronounced in Android 3.0.

So yeah maybe they could junk Java for something else, but why should they. As for the UI, there is more than enough to distinguish it from iOS and always has been.

8
0
Anonymous Coward

all about patents

"For example Eclipse is a great IDE so using Java immediately gives the SDK a leg up"

You must be joking, it easily brings any 4GB PC to its knees!! It's free but it doesn't mean is great.

This is all about patents, finally google need to spend some money to defend their product. See how it all cooks together, will be a very interesting year.

0
1
Silver badge

Nothing wrong with Eclipse

I agree Eclipse is a heavy weight app but it's also one of the most powerful IDEs in existence. I practically live in the app for Java development and it has incomparable functionality for refactoring, formatting, debugging and a host of other features. Not even Netbeans gets close.

That's not to say it's without its faults of course and I could spend a post ranting about them. But for example the IDE can be pretty complex, sometimes maddeningly more so than Netbeans but on the flip side it's also a lot more powerful.

If you keep your plugins down to the ones you need (e.g. don't install the J2EE eclipse if you only J2SE functionality) it works pretty well. I think some versions of Eclipse, such as the commercialized Websphere developer editions are so laden down that they are borderline unusable.

3
1
Facepalm

title required

RE: "Eclipse easily brings any 4GB pc to its knees!"

You're doing it wrong.

3
0

Data trumps stories

See http://www.groklaw.net/staticpages/index.php?page=OracleGoogle for all the real gen.

The copyright claims are getting weaker as people dig up more statements from Sun that used to be on Sun's java site (which Oracle has difficulties recovering for the court case). But Orlikowski is right to point out that Google engineers and lawyers should have paid more attention to what licence conditions Sun set rather than relying on statements from Sun executives who are no longer there.

If enough patents claims are found invalid in the re-examinations (see tables), then the Motorola patents could be enough to trade for the remaining valid claims. As for the Nortel ones, Google gave up bidding when it found itself up against a consortium of everyone else, trying to establish an oligopoly. US and EU regulators are looking at the competition effects of the purchase of Novell patents. They might do the same for the Nortel ones.

All this goes to show that the effective purpose of patents in fast-moving industries is not to support innovation, but to help large companies keep out new entrants.

10
1
Silver badge

Backstory.

There's a little backstory to Schwartz' blog posting; see http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2348832&cid=36882124 by a former Sun engineer.

Just on the off-chance that you are not inclined to look at the link, let me paste the former Sun engineer's summary: "Schwartz's blog should not be taken as an indication that Sun knew about and approved what Google was doing with Android. What it does prove is what a lot of people knew then but wouldn't say: Schwartz was a clueless loud-mouthed buffoon who happily fiddled away on his blog as SUNW burned."

So Schwartz' blog posts might not really weaken Oracle's claims against Google, but they might entice Google into open a can of worms in front of a jury that Oracle might be able to use to show Google's duplicity.

2
3

Reality is just a distant, far-away land isn't it?

One. Oracle woulnd't file a lawsuit if they didn't think they had a chance of winning. These things can get expensive.

Two. Even if parts of their suit are invalidated, why would Oracel want to trade the remainder for mobile Motorola patents?

Three. They won't be invalidated, because of the emails of several Google members which basically prove that Google went ahead and stole Sun/Oracle's IP.

Four. Google didn't give up bidding because of a Cabal of companies trying to destroy them. Microsoft offered them a part in this consortium, and they said no, because they could not have used them for defensive purposes if they had.

Considering Android ha sbeen in development far longer than iOS or Windows Phone 7, I would say Google is the entrenched party here.

3
4
FAIL

OK then..,.

You actually believe Microsoft's claim they invited Google to join the Nortel patent gang..

Do you know how dumb that sounds?

1
1
Stop

Lack of long term analysis alert...

This article is completely from the hip and lacking any long term thought

Nortel is sold for 6 billion too MS et al for approx 6,000 patents and then Google pays 12 Billion for far more and suddenly its a bad decision ?

The hardware division is no problem either, would guess that will be sold off and a generous some of money will come back to Google and reduce the overall sum making it an even better deal.

Finally you do not need corresponding patents in patent war, its more a case of you you settle out of court and play (pay) the patents of each other until you come to a middle of the road settlement. The actual patents don't have to be directly connected and can between totally separate products/divisions..

4
0

Why don't Apple sue Google directly?

If Google were to offer blanket imdemnification then that would mean Apple would have the one bog target instead of lots of small ones. The big question is why don't Apple sue Google directly instead of the downstream developers. Is it becasue their case is on very shaky legal grounds. What's the state of indemnification across the industry in relation to other players and how has the patent wars influenced the advance of FOSS software?

5
0

Google doesn't sell infringing devices

And that's the reason why Apple doesn't sue directly.

1
2
Bronze badge

Because...

Irrespective of the morality of their case, why sue Google? Google have deep pockets. The hardware manufacturers pockets aren't so deep. On a purely strategic level Apple's choice makes complete sense. By adopting that strategy Google face a dilemma. Take on huge legal bills on behalf of their partners or leave one or two partners to fight their own legal fight. The cost / payback ratio is always disadvantageous to Google. Apple will avoid suing everyone at once - otherwise they make it worth Google's while stepping in to the arena. They can just keep chipping away and sowing the seeds of fear uncertainty and doubt. In my view Google need to accept the effectiveness off this strategy bite the bullet and indemnify their partners. Currently Apple know Google don't want to do that because they have developed Android as a long term strategic play, not to earn license revenues here and now. So Android doesn't fund the legal fight Google need to take on if they are going to keep Android open and (largely license cost unencumbered) in the here and now.

The result of all this is Google are likely to be forced to go back on their commitment to keep Android open source. The opportunity cost is getting bigger all the time. By keeping it free, they can't afford to defend it, at least not without legal fund subsidy from their advertising revenues in a way that would call their strategy into question in the eyes of the analysts. They have already deferred making Honeycomb source code open, probably in part because they are being forced to recognize this harsh reality.

Secondly now they are an admirable number two in the tablet market, which continues to explode all over the place, yet are making no appreciable revenues from it. In the meantime Apple are making billions upon billions from iOS and iPad. What would you do if the opportunity cost of your Open Source strategy runs to billions? Stick with open source, or say "We tried but we are a business and have to compete by realizing the revenues available to us" ?

I don't know what they will do. But they are facing one huge dilemma.

Perhaps it's predictable, but "Don't do evil" now seems to be conflicting with "Make huge amounts of money." Idealism is being mercilessly ravaged by market opportunity.

3
1
Silver badge
Linux

Imdemnify their partners

I reckon their best bet would be to offer Android to OEMs in 2 forms;

1) Free to use and fight your own battles

2) Commercially licensed pay per handset with legal indemnification

Let the OEMs decide whether they want to go it alone and hope for the best or pay a license and get protection from G

3
0
Linux

pass-along cost

The handset makers that have agreed to pay Apple/M$/etc their Danegeld are simply passing along that cost to us in pricier kit. It's worth noting that Barnes & Noble, who's being sued by the Monopolist for their Nook Color e-reader, told Ballmer's lawyers a) we're not signing your NDA to see the patents b) your patents are obvious and shouldn't have been granted to begin with c) see you in court. For them, the hardware is simply an enabler to market e-books to the masses, so they want to hold the costs down to the bare minimum. The patents they've exposed so far in their initial filings are as obvious as you'd expect, and if this prompts some review by the USPTO, are likely to be overturned.

Google taking on the Moto patent portfolio (remember they were one of the first into the mobile market, they probably have some VERY basic patents on cellular technology) gives them the chance to flip any number of the mobile patent-troll lawsuits back on their attackers.

0
0
Paris Hilton

does not compute

I'll agree it's a good scoop for moto, providing them breathing room to sort themselves out. And I'll agree it's a bit of a crapshoot for google. Shelling out that much for patents that expire in what, twenty years tops? What is the average age of that portfolio, anyway? That's going to be something of a bumpy ride to actually make use of it.

Maybe it's more of a "bigger hammer" approach to a burning wish to be in the handset business, as that didn't work too well for google the first time over. And it makes sense to want to join in as they have a lot of mindshare in the tech crowd; google-y hardware is to the silly valley geek as apple hardware is to the techno hipster. Mobile computing keeps on getting more mobile on ever smaller devices. So google will keep on pushing this because it's practically in their workforce's dna to do so.

But while I'm drawing parallels, I might as well draw one with nokia. And micros~1's danger misadventure as the set-up asking for a re-think. Though they then proceeded with skype anyway. Anyhow. This thing confuses me. It stops the moto android litigation neatly but is no good as a deterrent ("stop suing or we'll buy you"? does not compute) and doesn't work to deal with that other android litigant. And it also isn't that likely to help against the patent troll going after apple's app store developers.

So it doesn't really make sense, except as a move comparable to apple's acquisition of pa semi and intrinsity. Pity about the things they took off the market that way, but it did enable them to come up with something apple-esquely successful, and neatly securing a good solid tech advantage on the competition. I don't know what google'll come up with, in fact I'm not sure they have what it takes to succeed as a hardware shop and might burn themselves badly on the management structure of this acquisition, but maybe they do have some Big Plans. At the very least the stakes are suitably high. Maybe, if pressed I'd guess probably, a bit too high.

Paris, for no reason that appears to make any sense at all.

0
1
Childcatcher

ego

This tells me that google has an ego worth $12BN.

Let's see if their $12bn worth of patents are going to be as dubious as those held by Apple, Oracle and Microsoft as they claimed repeatedly.

2
3
Silver badge
Meh

This is a problem?

"The bigger problem is that Android is blatantly a copycat, but didn't need to be."

But so what?

If you insist on building your own application silo every time, you may well get nowhere. This is why the "IBM PC" exists.

7
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.