[FoRK] Google Android Skyhook lawsuit (plus Motorola and Samsung)

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Fri May 13 05:25:27 PDT 2011




So what does all this mean? At the very least, it’s now extremely clear that
Google plays a major role in Android device development, to the point where
Andy Rubin himself approves and denies requests from OEMs. It’s also clear
that Google places tremendous value on collecting location data, and it acted
swiftly when it determined Skyhook’s deal with Motorola might threaten its
ability to collect that data. Hell, one of the headings in Google’s summary
judgment brief is “Skyhook was not entitled to deprive Google of its
contractual right to collect location data on Motorola Android devices.”
Can’t say it much plainer than that, really. And Google’s doesn’t hesitate to
use its muscle to get what it wants from OEMs — it revised Samsung’s app
license to specifically require Google location services be installed and
used by default. Whether or not Google’s behavior is anti-competitive is a
matter for the court to decide, but it’s definitely aggressive.

Google’s attitude towards Android fragmentation is also fascinating: not only
does the company tell partners that it has to control fragmentation in order
to ensure Android’s success, it’s gone so far as to forbidding Samsung from
producing or even contributing software to unapproved devices. We’ve been
hearing that Google’s taking a harder line towards fragmentation, and that
clearly seems to the case.

As for Skyhook’s case itself, it’s hard to say. Google’s concerns about the
loss of data collection and the potential for contaminating its location
database are both valid, and although Skyhook’s put up enough of a case to
survive summary judgement, it’ll have to show that Google actually used the
power of its Android app license improperly to keep XPS off Motorola and
Samsung devices. (And Google will have to sort out exactly how Skyhook’s data
would contaminate its location database when Skyhook explicitly refused to
send the data at all.) And let’s not forget that nothing presented so far
even touches on the patent-related aspects of the case. This whole thing is
going to take some time — and we’ll have another huge set of documents to
sift through at the end of it.

Lastly, we’d also note that the Open Handset Alliance, the nominative keeper
of Android, is not mentioned a single time by any of the parties involved.
The OHA might well steward the open-source aspect of Android, but when it
comes down to actually shipping a device, it’s entirely Google’s show. And
that might be biggest takeaway of all: for all of Android’s open-source
ideals, Google is very much in control — and it’s not shy about letting its
partners know it.  Tags: android, android compatibility, andy rubin, google,
lawsuit, motorola, sanjay jha, skyhook, skyhook sues google

More information about the FoRK mailing list