Google: Smartphone Patent Issues Keeping Android Down
So far, the endless drama around Google’s smartphone patent legal battles hasn’t had much of a channel impact, so The VAR Guy has shied away from rolling coverage of each new development. But when Google posts an official blog entry claiming “a hostile, organized campaign against Android by Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and other companies, waged through bogus patents,” it’s time to take notice. Here’s the overview.
We can quibble about statistics all day long, but Google says the Android mobile operating system is “on fire,” with 550,000 activations per day by way of 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers. But “other platforms” are competing with Android for success, which is good for the whole market.
But all’s not well in the smartphone market. Enter that alliance of competitors, banding together to buy up Nortel and Novell patents, with the sole intention of making sure Google didn’t get them. Those bands of patent marauders even went so far as to demand a $15 fee per Android device activated, according to Google.
All these patents are stifling innovation, according to Google:
A smartphone might involve as many as 250,000 (largely questionable) patent claims, and our competitors want to impose a “tax” for these dubious patents that makes Android devices more expensive for consumers. They want to make it harder for manufacturers to sell Android devices. Instead of competing by building new features or devices, they are fighting through litigation.
Google is confident the courts will find Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, et al, are illegally hoarding patents, inflating prices at auction to keep them out of reach, and generally engaging in anti-competitive practices to keep Android down.
However, as pointed out by The Next Web, Google’s take is (surprise!) full of omissions. For instance, Google itself bid on those Nortel patents, but only offered whimsical amounts like Pi. And Microsoft execs have taken to Twitter with proof that the search giant turned down the chance to bid jointly with Microsoft in that same auction. I’m a little skeptical that a club of enemies willing to cross into anticompetitive business practices would invite Google to be a member.
Either way, this signifies that Google isn’t going to be keeping quiet in the seemingly eternal software patent wars anymore. And it’s positioning itself as the Rebel Alliance to Microsoft’s Galactic Empire. Too bad Google’s blog doesn’t come off as a lot of, well, whining.