During the earnings call after Google announced their Q2 2011 earnings today, a question was asked about the patent issues surrounding Google right now. Specifically, Android is under assault from Oracle as well as Microsoft and Apple. This is happening because Google only has roughly 700 patents, and they recently lost a bid to gain Nortel’s 6,000+ patents — with those going to, who else, Microsoft and Apple, among others. So what is Google going to do?
“Obviously, we have a lot of IP in progress — not only what has been issued,” Google CEO Larry Page said, clearly trying to say that Google is pushing forward on patents by continuing to do their own innovation (as opposed to buying patents). “Android is on a tear,” Page continued. He reiterated many of the massive numbers he shared earlier in the call — 550,000 Android activations a day, etc. He pointed to the 231 carrier partners and 78 open handset alliance partners that Google has — so far, they don’t appear to be scared of the patent issue.
“Depsite the efforts of some of our competitors, there hasn’t been any slow down,” Page said. “We’re really committed to Android,” he continued before qualifying that: “We will support it in a cost-effective manner.” Reading into that, the statement seems to suggest that Google did not feel bidding over $4.5 billion on the Nortel patents was worth it.
Some would disagree. “Sometimes coveted objects are worth what people are willing to pay for, not necessarily what the algorithm says they are worth,” paidContent’s Tom Krazit wrote last week. But this is clearly Google’s strategy right now. They’ll push forward on their own IP and scoop up other patents when it’s cost-effective.
But will that strategy be good enough? That remains the big question that simply remains unanswered.