Thursday, October 13, 2011

Android's Fall from Grace

Via Foss Patents:
The Federal Court of Australia ordered an interim injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 over strong suspicions of the infringement of two technical invention patents.
The patents at issue are not tablet-specific. They are very broad and can hardly be worked around, unlike various other intellectual property rights that Apple asserted and Samsung recently engineered around.
Not tablet specific. Can't be worked around. Sounds like real trouble for all tablet makers.
After today's decision, I believe no company in the industry be able to launch any new Android-based touchscreen product in Australia anytime soon without incurring a high risk of another interim injunction. The two patents on which today's ruling is based aren't Galaxy Tab 10.1-specific at all. They will affect all Android-based smartphones and tablet computers, across all vendors.
Google's cavalier attitude toward other companies' intellectual property is starting to backfire in seriously harmful ways. Samsung is only the first Android OEM to suffer serious economic damage by not being able to launch products in certain markets.
Off the top of my head, I can think of at least 5 reasons why Android might be nearing its end:

  1.  It's a failed business model that doesn't make anyone any sustainable profits.
  2. The purchase of Motorola by Google has ended Android's licensing model and initiated the integrated model. I think Google has even less chance of creating a successful integrated Android product than Microsoft had with the Zune. Furthermore, the purchase of Motorola has lit a fire under every other Android manufacturer as they desperately seek to separate themselves from Android before Google cuts them off in favor of Motorola.
  3. License fees paid by Android manufacturers means that Android is no longer "free".
  4. The Oracle suit. A potential nuclear bomb that may end Android altogether.
  5. The various Apple injunctions which may make it impossible for various Android products to even reach the market.
Android is unraveling. It now appears that it's only a matter of how fast and how hard it falls.



  1. I don't think Google is going to walk away from Android. It's going to cost them dearly to fight Apple, Microsoft & Oracle. They'll probably end up paying patent fees to one or more of those companies. But in the end they'll do it because they won't want to admit they made a mistake in pursuing Android in the first place.

    Their hardware partners, however, will probably start shifting their product portfolio to Windows Phone. Soon.

  2. I agree that Google is not going to walk away from Android. In fact, I think they "double-downed" their bet on Android when they spent 12.1 billion dollars to acquire motorola. I think they have no choice now but to try to build an integrated device. Their licensed partners are going to start abandoning them as soon as they can find a viable alternative.

    But creating an integrated model doesn't really help Google much. They would still have to worry about Microsoft license fees, the Oracle suit and Apple's potential injunctions. Not to mention actually putting out a profitable product.

  3. I don't think Samsung is going to abandon Android for a long time to come, they are making big money from it. I'd doubt HTC will either unless Windows Phone/Windows 8 ARM suddenly takes off, and that's a long shot. I don't see it for a bunch of under the radar low end Chinese OEM manufacturers either.

    The Oracle suit seems to have hit some bumps, and at any rate, I don't see a worse outcome from that than Google forking over a few billion dollars, certainly less than the Motorola purchase price to Oracle.

    Now in the long run, Android may prove to have been good only for Samsung and Amazon, but that doesn't mean it will go away.

    Look it Windows: where are a ton of the older Windows OEMs, where is IBM, how are the current PC OEMs doing in the PC market? The answers are all negative -- yet Windows is still here, and will likely be around for at least another decade, possibly two. Counting DOS as the original Windows, that is 1981 to 2021 at a minimum 40, likely 50 years!!! Just because it is a bad business for anyone but Microsoft, it doesn't help -- Microsoft's partners don't have the imagination to do anything else. Neither do Google's partners. Most of them will just go down with the ship.