Big tech companies see mobile devices as their future. I can reach no other conclusion, given the recent patent buying-sprees. Every big tech company has gotten into it: Google, Apple, and Microsoft (among many others) have spend tens of billions buying tens of thousands of patents, most of which are related to mobile devices. The sellers are mainly has-beens, including Verizon, Nortel, Motorola, Rim, and Novell. IBM also sold a trove of patents to Google, but they’re no has been.
Another big tech company has recently broadened its business model — Amazon. With the Kindle (whose success perplexes me), Amazon dipped its rather large pinkie toe into the mobile device waters. Now, Amazon has released the Fire, a tablet device with which Amazon is has inched closer to competing with the vaunted iPad.
Now, make no mistake, the Fire is no iPad, but I don’t think Amazon wants it to be. These days, once you compete with Apple, you lose. There’s no such thing as an Apple, except an Apple. But if you’re on the periphery, or somehow create a new niche, you have a chance. Enter, the Fire. But mobile devices need intellectual property protection to stand a chance when billion dollar IP lawsuits are being tossed around.
Amazon has been beefing up its patent portfolio, including singing a huge and vital licensing agreement with Microsoft in 2010. Now, Amazon may be looking to expand further by buying another tech has been, Palm.
Last year, HP bought Palm for $1.2 billion, but HP has been losing money on mobile device unit for the last year and is looking to unload. Hilariously, an executive VP at HP said at the time that Palm would “create a unique H.P. experience spanning multiple mobile connected devices.” I am now sitting at my laptop, thinking, “I am having one hell of a unique Toshiba experience.” But I digress.
Might Palm be bought at a bargain rate? Venturebeat.com has reported that Amazon and HP are in “serious negotiations”, that there are other potential buyers as well. Palm is said to have a nice patent portfolio, which Amazon will need to defend against the lawsuits which are all but pending (because when aren’t they?).
Someone named Jordan Rohan (“ . . . a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!”) from some company called Stifel Nicolaus even said:
I don’t think anyone believes that Apple and Amazon will not have significant competitive skirmishes in the future . . . The value of I.P. related to mobile has gone up—even if there was no palm devices in the future, it would still be valuable.
Yep, he thinks Apple and Amazon will sue each other and that the already high value of mobile IP will continue to rise. Pray that Mr. Rohan didn’t get paid for his prophesy.
It’s all funny money for big tech firms, but Amazon is right to be in the game. If you ain’t got patents, you ain’t got nuthin in the mobile device wars.