Why does Google even need to have its own mobile OS?

The longer this goes on, the more absurd it seems.

Today, Business Insider says the patents Google bought in the Motorola deal is crap, and that the reason Google bought them was the patents. Or so they say.

Google is investing billions and billions in a mobile operating space and now also likely hardware, and what is the likelihood of that giving a decent return?

It got me thinking: Why is it that Google even needs a mobile OS?

Google makes three amazing, innovative products. The rest is crap. The good products are: Search (including AdWords), Maps, and Gmail. What else is there that’s really really good and innovative?

So why do they want to be in the mobile space?

Because otherwise someone else will own the mobile space, and they will have the power to shift away from Google to Bing or Yahoo, or to build their own search engine? In other words, a defensive move. Is that the argument?

But they didn’t need to own a desktop OS in order to get to where they are in desktop search today.

They didn’t even need their own browser. They only got that more recently, and it’s not that the browser is driving adoption of Google – it’s more that Google drives adoption of the browser, which then keeps people returning because of the superior experience and tight integration.

What if Google focused on making the best possible search engine, maps, and mail application, and trusted that Apple and any other player in the mobile space, except Microsoft, would use their search engine, maps, and mail application?

If they hadn’t done Android, they’d have had at least $12bn more to invest in making these products even better, and to invest in strategic partnerships, like when they pay Mozilla to make Google the default browser in Firefox. Not to mention all the time and attention that Android must take from top management, and the allies it has turned into enemies.

It just seems like one big and very expensive, defensive mistake.

For me, looking from the outside, it’s indicative of Google having lost its sense of purpose, having forgotten who they are and why they’re here.

I want my Google back!