Why Microsoft is suing Motorola over Android and why it’s good news for Apple

Apple Online Store“Right now there are so many lawsuits flying over the Android mobile operating system – involving Apple, HTC, Motorola, Oracle, Google and Microsoft – that you’d think Google had cobbled it together out of code stolen from every major technology company on the planet,” Christopher Mims reports for Technology Review. “The latest is particularly bold – Microsoft is suing Motorola over a portfolio of 9 patents that, it says, Motorola is infringing by using Android on its popular Droid handsets.”

Advertisement: Introducing the new iPod touch. Now with FaceTime, Retina display, HD video recording and Game Center. From $229. Buy Now.

“According to intellectual property lawyer Spyros Lazaris, who has handled litigation on technology IP for Samsung, Deutsche Bank and others, the situation is probably a lot simpler,” Mims reports. “In his opinion, the spat is likely to be the end result of ongoing, and now failed, licensing negotiations between Microsoft and Motorola – the sort of thing he’s seen a lot of in his time as a litigator.”

“The bad news for Motorola is that Microsoft’s choice of venue indicates that the company is ready to play hardball: one of Microsoft’s suits was filed in district court in Washington, but the second was filed with the International Trade Commission,” Mims reports. “‘The ITC tends to move very quickly – so fees get high very fast,’ says Lazaris. ‘They really have forced the issue in this instance.'”

Mims reports, “Microsoft’s ultimate goal probably isn’t to keep Motorola from using Android at all, but merely to add a cost component to Android, which is currently free for handset makers to use, whereas Microsoft’s Windows alternative carries a licensing fee.”

Read more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: By SteveJack Microsoft’s goal is to level the playing field vs. Google’s Android and make handset makers consider Windows Phone ’07. After all, if Android is no longer “free,” and costs the same or more than Microsoft’s fake iPhone, then why not use the one that’ll be regarded as most compatible with Windows PCs and, believe it or not, offers a more coherent UI than Android’s assembled-by-a-committee-of-patent-infringers UI?

I’ve used Google’s Android. To me, it infringes on Apple’s IP all over the place. I think the courts will agree (eventually). It seems likely that it infringes on Microsoft patents, too, as HTC has already agreed to a patent deal with Microsoft. (See: Microsoft: Google’s Android infringes on our patented IP; signs new patent deal with HTC – April 28, 2010)

HTC now pays Microsoft for every Android handset they inflict on consumers. If Microsoft can market Windows Phone ’07 well enough (big “if”) to create an equal or better impression of WP07 in the minds of consumers, why wouldn’t HTC use Microsoft’s OS instead? After all, they’re already paying Microsoft indirectly for Android, they might as well pay them directly and then they can influence elements of WP07 development. Extrapolate this to all current Android handset and, eventually, tablet makers.

The end result: Microsoft eats into Android’s share and further fragments the smartphone and, eventually, tablet markets, creating more confusion for consumers who’ll flee (with developers nipping at their heels) even faster to the one known quantity who offers trusted quality, the best app store experience with the best and most apps, complete compatibility with not only their old Windows PC, but also with their new MacBook and, of course, with their iTunes music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, etc.: Apple iOS devices.

You end up with a mobile OS market that looks very roughly something like this: Apple 60%, Google 15%, Microsoft 15%, and the remaining 10% divvied up between whoever survives the bloodbath to occupy the “others” category.

In other words, gulp, “Go, Microsoft, go!”

SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.

58 Comments

  1. Maybe now we can get a REAL version of Microsoft Office for Mac (and even iOS) where you don’t look like an idiot when you give your dissertation as a ppt presentation prepared on a Mac on a Windows PC to a panel of PhD professors and your important graphics are instead replaced by the lovely “Quicktime graphics compressor needed to see this image”, and even when you put Quicktime on the Windows PC it still doesn’t matter. Microsoft and Apple and Google need to make their stuff intercompatible, or else……I will kill them all.

  2. Maybe now we can get a REAL version of Microsoft Office for Mac (and even iOS) where you don’t look like an idiot when you give your dissertation as a ppt presentation prepared on a Mac on a Windows PC to a panel of PhD professors and your important graphics are instead replaced by the lovely “Quicktime graphics compressor needed to see this image”, and even when you put Quicktime on the Windows PC it still doesn’t matter. Microsoft and Apple and Google need to make their stuff intercompatible, or else……I will kill them all.

  3. But we don’t know how much protection money HTC is paying ms. It may not be all that much because ms was very eager to establish precedent that their IP was in Android and handset makers pay for it. Ballmer is already using that argument in statements about the Motorola suit. The license terms were secret, and depending on how well HTC can keep a secret, the other players have to litigate or negotiate in the dark.

  4. But we don’t know how much protection money HTC is paying ms. It may not be all that much because ms was very eager to establish precedent that their IP was in Android and handset makers pay for it. Ballmer is already using that argument in statements about the Motorola suit. The license terms were secret, and depending on how well HTC can keep a secret, the other players have to litigate or negotiate in the dark.

  5. Whoever thinks fragmentation is a good idea for anyone is an idiot. It may have good short term results for iOS, but in the end it will piss everyone off and people will look for a less annoying technology

  6. Whoever thinks fragmentation is a good idea for anyone is an idiot. It may have good short term results for iOS, but in the end it will piss everyone off and people will look for a less annoying technology

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.