According to the New York Times, Google Inc.’s most recent acquisition of Motorola Mobility cost more than the 185 previous acquisitions (combined) the company has made, dating back to 2004 when the company went public.
Why is this significant?
Of all the expensive moves Google has made over the past eight years, this is the MOST expensive. Of all of the big plays, this is the biggest. From the $12.5 billion price tag, we know this must be one exceedingly important purchase to the number-crunching brains in Mountain View.
What does Motorola give Google? For starters, it helps the search engine behemoth to shore up a boat load of patents — more than 17,000 — related to the Andrioid operating system (helping Google fortify against the litany of charges levied regularly by Apple). But it also gives Google a platform. For the first time in its history, Google will be able to manufacture phones and tablets — the physical devices (not just the software they use to operate).
This move into hardware manufacturing has raised a lot of eyebrows, and some critics postulate that Google, in securing thousands of patents, has also acquired a type of business that reaches beyond its bread and butter. There is concern about the increased number of employees, the management issues inherent in the new deal, the operational details, as well as the tangible way that this deal places Google “in direct competition with many of its partners.”
Google CEO Larry Page has called this a “natural fit,” and the company now seems poised to launch “Andriod@home” featuring an array of electrical devices (lightbulbs, dishwashers, alarm clocks, radios, etc.), a sort of home operating system that will be controlled by the ‘Droid Tablet. Think of it as home automation, brought to you by your favorite search engine.
Looking back at this acquisition in 10 years, we might remember that this was the moment Google secured the Intellectual Property wherewithal to find its way into every aspect of our lives, whether we’re surfing the Web or heating up the morning’s brew.