Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility surprised everyone (everyone except this blogger who predicted it would happen two weeks ago). Both companies as well as their lawyers somehow managed to keep a tight lid on the $12.5 billion acquisition--Google's biggest ever--in a move that rivals even Steve Jobs's super surprise product releases. But according to some tech and media bloggers, Google's keeping mum was about neither whetting consumers' appetites for shiny new things to buy nor hasty planning. (Motorola's SEC filings show that planning may have begun as early as March.) Rather, the search giant took an Art of War approach to the acquisition, steering competitors and the media in one direction while secretly building a tactical advantage that would catch everyone by surprise. In hindsight, it seems like Google founder and CEO Larry Page just scored a hat-trick of deception.
"Pretend inferiority and encourage his arrogance."
Like many, tech columnist Dan Lyons links Google's Motorola purchase to the recently furious battle for software patents in Silicon Valley. In July, a consortium of companies beat Google in an auction for Nortel's portfolio. What idiots! says Lions:
Google just sandbagged its rivals. The whole thing was a rope-a-dope maneuver. Google never cared about the Nortel patents. It just wanted to drive up the price so that AppleSoft (those happy new bedmates) would overpay. Today, with the Motorola deal, Google picks up nearly three times as many patents as AppleSoft got from Novell and Nortel. More important, Google just raised the stakes in a huge way for anyone who wants to stay in the smartphone market.
By the numbers, Google got a much better deal than the AppleSoft consortium. Whereas AppleSoft paid $4.5 billion for about 6,000 patents, Google picked up four times the patents (24,000) for the less than three times the price. (Update: MG Siegler from TechCrunch has posted a worthwhile debunker of Lyons's claims on his personal blog.)