Sounds like proof-of-concept prototypes to me. Google needs self-driving cars so that people stuck in traffic can surf the Internet and generate advert revenue for Google. I can't see them caring who makes the cars, as long as someone makes them. But someone has to prove the concept first, and Google has plenty of cash for R&D.
@DMCCunney...there are rumours that Google is getting into chip design...you would think they go fabless first...but who knows, maybe they can swallow some fabs too, I agree this is expensive and somewhat divergent to other things they are doing...but they are also getting into robotics big time, self-driving cars etc...sounds like hardware to me
@krisi: Google might be buy IBM fabs...they tried with Freescale and failed (but retained patents), they might try again
I think what Google wanted from Freescale was the patents. Google isn't really in the hardware business. There are things with the Google name on them, but Google itself doesn't make them. It gets them from folks who do make hardware in an OEM deal.
at some point they might need more business than search adevrstising that generates 90% of their revenue
If they do, hardware isn't the place to get it. Look at what it costs to build a fab, then look at what it costs to keep a fab updated with the latest process technologies, and last look at what you can make selling what the fab produces. There's a reason why the number of companies that actually own fabs is shrinking.
@visi_guy: What about Germany, they buck the trend and don't seem to be hurting?
It's not quite that simple. The products that Germany succsssfully exports are higher-end luxury items which can command a price and margins that will support a manufacturing economy in a nation with Western wage scales.
But these things are structural, and Germany is hurting in some places. Technology is making an increasing number of jobs redundant - what had been done by a human being can now be done by a machine, or by another human somewhere where it's cheaper. A fair number of folks in Germany are victims of technological unemployment, and aren't likely to get other jobs, because the jobs that exist are things they aren't qualified to do, and they may not be able to acquire the needed skills. There's a German economist whose name I've forgetten doing reaearch on the topic, with the underlying question "So what does Germany do for these people?".
Germany is getting away with it so far, but is not guaranteed to continue to be able to.
Google might be buy IBM fabs...they tried with Freescale and failed (but retained patents), they might try again...at some point they might need more business than search adevrstising that generates 90% of their revenue
I'd say national pride and security are more than just emotional issues. They are fairly substantive and can be measured, often, in dollars--say the massive defense budget or the resources dedicated to homeland security. IBM is an important corporate resource for the nationa as a whole, and to lose this sector of its business would be a major blow--there's no question about it.