The announcement yesterday by Google that it was going to purchase Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion (roughly £7.6 billion) took a lot of analysts by surprise because of its sheer scale, the fact that it was unexpected and most importantly, didn't seem to have a clear reason behind it.
However, with the deal now firmly behind us, it looks very likely that Motorola's patents as well as the prospects of saving at least one major handset manufacturer may explain Google's decision to splash out on Motorola.
Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet (opens in new tab) points out how the Microsoft vs Motorola patent war may have taken a new turn as Google gets pulled in.
Both Microsoft and Motorola Mobility are increasingly embroiled in a legal battle to determine who is infringing on whose patents, with Microsoft saying that Motorola smartphones infringe on Microsoft patents while Motorola says that Microsoft violated its IP by using 16 patents without permission in a wide range of products.
Motorola has more than 17,000 patents in the mobile segment with thousands of others pending, a treasure trove that will give Google the ability not only to defend itself and its ecosystem against rival claims but also provide it with significant leverage to dissuade Apple, Microsoft and others from targeting Android and Google.
Perhaps the most telling hint lies in the blog post published by Google's CEO, Larry Page, who said (opens in new tab) that the "acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats".