If I Had a Billion Dollars

Two big billion-dollar deals in the technology world today. First, Microsoft announced that it would pay $1 billion for AOL’s arsenal of patents. Second, Facebook will spend $1 billion for the photo sharing and filtering service Instagram.

Judging by sarcastic remarks on Twitter, a lot of people seem to think that latter deal is irrationally rich. But consider it in comparison to the former deal. Whatever else you may say about it, Instagram is a legitimately innovative company that’s made something a lot of people like to use and do, in fact, use frequently. AOL is … what? Not much, but they can provide Microsoft with much-needed countermeasures in the giant legal pretzel over who “invented” smartphones and social networking.