Hey, Big Spender

Did the Motorola acquisition force Andy Rubin out as Android chief at Google? Read:

With the value of Motorola’s patents now coming into focus, the complete implosion of a previous suit against Apple, and increasing domestic and international pressure against using standards-related patents to block competitive products, it’s not unreasonable to say that any patent-related benefits to the purchase have vanished. Google may have wanted to buy a bulwark against future Apple lawsuits, but it ended up with a fairly anemic patent-licensing business instead.

And that patent-licensing business certainly isn’t enough to offset quarter after quarter of losses as Motorola’s current products fail to compete against strong devices from Apple, Samsung, and HTC. Google has repeatedly said that it inherited an 18-month pipeline of products from the company that it needs to flush out — CFO Patrick Pichette went so far in February as to say that current Motorola phones like the Droid RAZR Maxx HD aren’t “wow” by Google’s standards, but that the company is building “the next wave of innovation and product lines.” In the meantime, Motorola has lost over a billion dollars since being acquired, laid off nearly 30 percent of its workforce, and had its cable box unit chopped off and sold to Arris for $2 billion amidst rumors that Google was struggling to find a buyer.

Motorola’s struggles may have even played a role in Andy Rubin’s departure from Android: Rubin sponsored the acquisition within Google, and sources say that he went so far as to vet Motorola’s upcoming roadmap and personnel. “Andy stood behind the deal and thought it was important to Google,” one source with deep ties to the mobile industry told The Verge.” As [new Motorola CEO] Dennis Woodside started to look into the details, he couldn’t see what Andy supposedly saw, which added more fuel to the fire to oust him.”

Or as I said two years ago, “Yeah, they overpaid.” Moto wasn’t a good cultural match for Google, its product portfolio wasn’t good enough for Google, and its patent portfolio is essentially worthless. And don’t even ask about Moto’s balance sheet.

Rubin had the company shell out $12 billion dollars — for what then?

I’m not sure why Google hasn’t shown him the door, other than perhaps to save face.