Re: People have been saying this would happen for years
Buying patents would be necessary if they were going to start making their own phones, instead of having someone who has their own patents do it for them like Nexus and this first gen Pixel. If they want to have Foxconn or the like make phones for them down the road, they will need patents as a defense as they could potentially be sued by OEMs Samsung (that would only be an option for those OEMs who decided to move on from Android, of course, but Google would have to be prepared for that possibility)
As for the Note 7, it remains to be seen if that replacement Note 7 that caught fire on the plane was a one off or that happens to more of them. There are a fair number of reports of people with replacement Note 7s that run very hot and/or drain the battery very quickly, so even if the newsworthy problems are behind them they may still leave in their wake a lot of dissatisfied Samsung customers looking to move on and considering Pixel thanks to its timely introduction.