... Rich people get rich by spending wisely. Just because Google -has- money doesn't mean it should spend it on the first thing that comes along.
If they didn't buy something, it's because they thought the price was too high for the value it brought to them. It's pretty simple economics.
Also, the value of patent pool may be vastly different to the consortium than to Google. Basically, the value reflects how the buyer evaluates competitor's competetitive strength.
In this case, it may be the consortium considers Google a very strong competitor, while Google considers the consortium a somewhat less troubling competition.
At the end of the day, Google has to start to have a far more proactive approach protecting Android and Android related cases that essentially are forcing manufacturers to pay up for licences essentially for patent protection via Microsoft :/
And deplorably, I think he's right.
Unfortunately, most of us (myself included) realize that's just the way things are now. I'm not defending this position - just commenting on it.
The only people who appear to be speaking out on issues like this are Anonymous. What does that say?
I totally agree lobbying is a problem - perhaps one of the largest (along with our two party political polarization). A solution that doesn't break the US Constitution would be awesome.
(Edit: added second paragraph.)
Some folks knew the Roberts supreme court would essentially sell the US to corporate interests back in 2005 when he was confirmed.
Citizens United was a nonprofit organization specifically formed to express the views of its members. You can't stop that without trampling all over the 1st Amendment. And you really wouldn't like the negation of "money is speech". Sure, you can support candidate Smith: just don't spend any money in the process, including but not limited to campaign supplies, web hosting, and the imputed value of your labor.
[added] Google is in a pretty unique position to do this:
1) They have relatively few patents, so destroying software patents would cause little collateral damage to them.
2) They have financial resources, with $4B set aside for purchasing (or destroying) software patents.
3) They have a lot of smart people resources (in house and hired guns) - the Google v. Oracle lawsuit is showing this.
Which is not to say Android isn't a threat to Apple, clearly it's the largest threat, but just that it hasn't seriously affected Apple's profits.
Apple's and Google's models are pretty orthogonal, and there is space for both. Sure they both compete aggressively, but it's everybody else whose models are in a mess.
para 3 "Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that Android infringes on anyone's patents.:"
This is absolutely correct. But it doesn't mean that it doesn't either. And without examining the facts (a matter requiring a significant effort of time and effort and no small familiarity with patent law) it is impossible to know a priori whether the patents have been infringed upon.
"It simply indicates that the companies in question have done the sums and decided that it is probably cheaper in the long run to pay licensing fees now rather than risk losing a long and expensive patent infringement suit and end up paying much more later. "
True. But without evidence and argument we still don't know if they settled because they (a) although they sincerely believed they were not infringing they didn't want to risk the legal process, or (b) they did believe they were infringing and whilst they would much rather not pay it was pointless to resist. All we can be confident of therefore is that (a) in either case their assessment of the risk has certainly been expertly evaluated by the best IP attorneys money can buy, and (b) those attorneys advised them to settle so they are unlikely to have been crystal clear it was blindingly obvious there was no infringement.
"In other words, these deals are mostly about the skewed incentives of the US patent system"
This is a false conclusion. This statement is not a reasonable consequence of anything that proceeded it. It is rather a statement of the writer's opinion of the patent system. He has twisted the argument, with no supporting evidence, to support his cause.
The fact is that from the material he presents (practically nothing) we cannot draw any meaningful conclusions about the state of the patent system. He and/or we may have prior opinions about the subject but this paragraph is just another opinion masquerading as an argument.
So how did Apple enter it? Or Google? When 75% of the market is an exception to your rule it's time to give the rule a second look.
"too expensive for small players"
This is dreamland. Patents aside, making a competitive mobile phone is a huge capital intensive endeavor. Patents don't scare people off half as much as the world of contract manufacturing does. There's no 17 year old wunderkind in Topeka being stopped from billionaire status here.
If it's dreamland, why are there small desktop linux competitors? You confuse engineering effort with business effort. You can't launch a smartphone OS business, but you can launch a desktop OS business. The only reasons that this is the case are patents.
How are they different from the Android forks showing up around the world?
How do they make money? How much would they make if Google gave away the same services for free?
If milk (read: Smartphone OS) was free it's seems pretty clear that you and I would not want to enter the milk selling business.
Caveat: unless we were able to deliver a superior quality milk that people would pay for and had some assurance (read: patents) that our innovation(s) would not be immediately copied and given away by the free milkers (read: Google/KIRF pirates).
I am certainly prepared to be persuaded that somehow fighting the patents in question is a life or death matter for Android but so far I haven't seen a convincing evidence that it's true.
But then Google jeopardizes its own search patents.
I think that's largely true for Microsoft and Apple as well. Although Apple does get a little snippy when people copy too closely. And Oracle seems to relish a good lawsuit.
It'll be mortal combat meets zelda. Who's in?