1Research In Motion
On top of our list is Research In Motion, whose co-CEO Mike Lazaridis once called Nortel’s patent war chest a “national treasure.” RIM, which has been hemorrhaging smartphone market share to Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iPhone, is reportedly weighing whether to outbid Google for the Nortel patents.
Apple is certainly not patent poor, as evidenced by its recent infringement lawsuits versus Samsung, HTC, Nokia, etc. Again, Nortel’s patents cover technology used in the iPhone, making Apple a perfect candidate to outbid Google. However, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is careful with the company’s cash, so we ultimately think it will sit this one out.
Like Google, Microsoft doesn’t make the actual phones, but its betting its mobile future on Windows Phone, its new mobile operating system. Thus far, Windows Phone hasn’t made any inroads versus Apple iOS or Android. Outbidding Google for the patents with a cool $1 billion from its Office war chest would score a huge coup versus its search rival.
Nokia is hardly patent poor, but it is a mobile phone maker that is struggling with its software identity so much that it had to partner with Microsoft to make Windows Phone its core platform. Grabbing the Nortel patents would be another way Nokia and Microsoft, by virtue of their partnership, can combat Android.
While Motorola has been on the comeback trail after hitching its wagon to the comet that is Android, it has stumbled of late. The company reportedly issued the Motorola Xoom Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” tablet too early, resulting in weak sales and it erred by preannouncing its Motorola Droid Bionic 4G smartphone, only to push it back for a redesign. Plus, any wireless patents it can get to defend versus Apple, Microsoft and others is helpful.
10Android Phone, Tablet Makers
Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdry offers this graph of patent poor companies that could use a shot in the arm to help defend against Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and other potential mobile market litigants.