There has been much talk about Google publicly complaining about others teaming against them in an effort to destroy Android through patents. The patents could force manufacturers to pay fees equal or higher to that of competitors, for example if Windows Phone OS cost $10 and the fees for Android are $11 the manufacturer would likely want that extra $1 per device sold and by on Team Microsoft. Google just purchased Motorola Mobility for around $12.5 billion just to protect itself from this potential patent takeover. Apple is often compared to Android and many believe that Apple must beat them, the two are actually quite different and Apple may not need to do a thing to fight Android because everyone else will.
The comparisons between Apple and Android are a bit ludicrous at times because they aren’t really the same product or style of distribution. Apple has iOS released on three pieces of hardware (four if you include Apple TV) and is built and distributed within Apple and its manufacturers. Their closed system and ecosystem allows for maximum profit in not only hardware sales and resale (through their own Apple retail stores), but in applications and music via iTunes and the App Store. Google has Android on hundreds of devices that they do not build and makes money through its services, advertisement and applications. The manufacturers are allowed to do what they want (kind of) since its “open source”. The problem is that although Google distributes its “open source” for free to manufacturers, it isn’t free for manufacturers to put the “open source” software onto a device that gains profit if it violates any patents.
Not long ago it was made known that HTC is actually paying Microsoft to use Android on their hardware. Yes you read that correctly. In fear that Microsoft may one day go after hardware manufacturers that ship Android on their devices, HTC is consciously protecting themselves against that future by paying them now. With the recent Nortel patent win alongside Apple, Microsoft has even more patents it can use to “persuade” Android manufacturers to either pay up or switch to Windows Phone for cheaper than it would be to pay the fee.
Oracle is suing Google because of their use of Java technology in Android without any licensing.
Before yesterdays purchase, Motorola’s CEO Sanjay Jha even said that they were going to try and cash in on Android with their 17,000 patents of which many were related to the telecom industry. Sanjay has been very public with complaints about Android as well and even stated early on that if they had the time and money, they would have created their own OS but adopted Android due to Apple’s growing dominance and lack of alternatives to compete against them. Although they did in a way get there moneys worth, the buyout shows that many patent holders are going to take a stand and try to get a piece of the Google Android pie.
So Microsoft has partnered with one of the biggest hardware manufacturers in the world and is having HTC pay licensing fees for using Android, Oracle is suing Google for billions because of their unwillingness to license Java, and Apple can go on a patent spending spree with its $76 billion and partner with the right companies to drive the final nail in the Android coffin. When will it be too much to license Android and more attractive to go with Windows Phone or their own solution? Will the Motorola purchase be enough patent armor to keep Android popular? Does the Motorola purchase make Android even less attractive?
Time will tell but we want to hear your opinion in the comments.