The Washington Post

Google acquires Motorola Mobility in a totally non-evil, self-defense move

These aren’t the Droids you’re looking for. (KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS)

Ah, Motorola Mobility.

We’ve been through some good times. Remember when the StarTAC was the smallest, most futuristic phone there was?

“A phone shaped like a clam!” everyone said. “What won’t they think of next? This is the future right here!” 

Many seem to think that Google just wants it for its patents – Google’s executives, in the course of a Monday conference call, mentioned the term 24 times. Currently a lack of patents has left Google vulnerable to challenges from Microsoft and Apple, resulting in its Android phones’ being pulled from the market in some areas. After Microsoft and Apple recently led an alliance to purchase 6,000 patents from defunct Canadian Nortel Networks, this is ammunition, Google argues, that it sorely needs to remain competitive in the mobile sphere. It’s in it for the patents 17,000 of them, some essential to 3G and 4G — and not at all for the joy of vertical integration first popularized by Andrew Carnegie. Motorola Mobility will continue to behave as a separate company.

Makes sense. Google never hesitates to reassure us that it is not the man with the monocle trying to acquire Park Place. It is the plucky, upstart dog on the game board, just dodgin g the sinister clutches of vile gangsters like Microsoft and Apple.

“This may sound like we’re trying to become Apple,” Google says. ”Don't get us wrong, we know it kind of sounds like that, in the sense that George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ kind of sounds like the Chiffons classic ‘He’s So Fine,’ but it’s not like that at all. We are just doing this to protect ourselves. We do not understand why the government keeps insisting on anti-trust investigating us, to the point that we have agreed to pay a large chunk of money if the deal doesn’t go through. We are just a bunch of innocuous geeks over here. Look, we’re wearing black polo shirts with khakis! Have you joined Google+ yet? You should totally join Google+.”

And who am I to doubt them? If anyone else did this, I’d worry. But this is Google! They’re lovable and human, like all the tech companies that currently own every piece of meaningful data about me.

I trust Google more than I trust many of my friends. If I gave my friends access to all the e-mails I had ever written, they would definitely do things with them of which I would not approve. All Google ever does is occasionally suggest that I’m forgetting to CC Emily.

If my friends knew that I have an entire Google+ circle reserved to “people who smell odd but I basically like,” they might cease being my friends. Google doesn’t judge me. It urges me to add others.

I couldn’t picture Motorola Mobility in better hands. Facebook creeps me out sometimes, with all the poking and the stubborn insistence of everyone involved with the company on Wearing Hoodies to Everything. Apple is so sleek it feels almost sinful. But Google, lovable, harmless Google – it’s in the motto! “Don't be evil!” If you think anyone with a motto like that could ever transform into a malignant monopoly — well, friend, you must have read a lot of history, or at least one or two books by George Orwell.

But this is Google we’re talking about. They’re running scared in the face of the iPhone5, which I hear is capable of magical feats such as paying for things remotely and then bringing your deceased relatives back to life, but only your favorite deceased relatives. Sure, Google is shutting down Google Labs and seems to be focusing on entrenching rather than innovating — never a promising sign for tech companies. But this is Google!

I’m sure we’re in good hands.

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences".


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