What Google really bought with its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility was a few fights. There's the one with Apple, for sure, but there are a few other hitches in Google's new giddyap.
Now, just like Apple, Google controls the hardware and the software side of its cell phone business -- an enviable ecosystem (for proof, see that Apple is the most valuable company in the world).
Another hitch could be that this move make sother Android manufacturers upset, because now they will inevitably be behind Google's eight-ball of manufacturing, with all the goodies being fed to the Motorola unit. For example, HTC has been building "Google phones" for years, so this moves Google from colleague to competitor.
In the ongoing patent wars, this too plays a part. Missing out on the Nortel fire sale, the Motorola pick up allows for thousands of patents to fall into Google's tool box. This could well prove to be the most valuable part of this whole deal.
Speaking directly of patents, Google's official blog post about the purchase:
We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.
Culturally speaking, there are a couple of things at play here, too. Motorola is an old-fashioned, Midwestern-style company. Its former hits, like the Razr phone, are noteworthy, but overall it lacks the imagination typical of Silicon Valley. Assimilation will not be easy.
Oh, and Google got 65 percent bigger, by headcount. That's a lot of Chicagoans that could be packing up the Truckster and headed to Mountain View and other Bay Area points.