Google used Android compatibility as ‘club’ against Skyhook

“A stack of internal e-mail messages from Google, which a Massachusetts state court made public last week, provide a glimpse into the competitive tactics and decision-making inside a business that is crucial to the company’s growth — its Android software for smartphones,” Steve Lohr reports for The New York Times.

“Android is Google’s gateway technology to a lucrative new arena for mobile advertising. Google provides the Android operating system free to handset makers, and allows them to tailor the open-source software somewhat, yet limits their freedom to tinker,” Lohr reports. “Android phones must adhere to a ‘compatibility’ standard determined by Google. In an e-mail on Aug. 6, 2010, Dan Morrill, a manager in the Android group, noted in passing that it was obvious to the phone makers that ‘we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.'”

Lohr reports, “Whether that club is an anticompetitive weapon is an issue in the court case… In the Massachusetts court, Skyhook Wireless has alleged that Google used its control over Android not to maintain the quality of its technology, but to squelch a competitor. Last April, Motorola chose to use Skyhook’s service in its Android phones instead of the free location data service offered by Google. Motorola reversed that decision in July. ‘After we announced our deal with Motorola, Google went crazy,’ said Ted Morgan, Skyhook’s chief executive. ‘That’s when Google went looking for compatibility compliance issues.’ Skyhook had reached a similar agreement with Samsung in April, which was also reversed in July.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Don’t be evil.*

*Unless adhering to said mantra would interfere with business interests

Related articles:
Apple CEO Steve Jobs hid iPad development from Google mole Eric Schmidt – April 12, 2011
Steve Jobs: Adobe is ‘lazy’, Google can’t ‘kill iPhone,’ ‘Don’t be evil’ mantra is ‘bullshit’ – February 1, 2010


    1. There may be good arguments for investigation, but there isn’t much Franken can do in his role as the chairman of the subcommittee on online privacy.

      The matter has really nothing to do with privacy; more with anti-trust issues.

    1. Not even the most rabid conservative/libertarian thinks free enterprise is ALWAYS right and the “gubmint” is ALWAYS wrong. Poor attempt at a straw man. Learn what people who disagree with you actually think instead of demonizing them and assuming they are all idiots.

      1. The most rabid ones do indeed think that way. In my opinion, that attitude is spreading from the extremes towards the mainstream. Regulation is evil. Taxes are evil. Government is socialist. etc…

        1. You may be right that the “most rabid ones” hold those thoughts, but there are rabid ideologues at both ends of the political spectrum. “everyone”‘s point is not mitigated, however. Painting Conservatives as anti regulation, or anti-taxes is ludicrous. 99.9% of those calling themselves Conservatives understand the need for regulation and taxes, as long as they are not punitive or unfettered. As a Conservative, I consider myself a regulator of the government I live under. As for “Government is socialist”, I think most Conservatives are just looking for a little intellectual honesty. U.S. government may not be Socialist (cap “S”), but on a scale of 1 to 10, the last 70 years has seen the needle move from around Zero up to about a Four. With this we’ve seen a growth of government and its agencies outpacing the private sector. Nearly half the population now receives some assistance from government largesse, paid for by an decreasing percentage of Americans paying an increasing tax obligation. Any person with a lick of economics education can see that we are on an unsustainable path; have been for 40 years. It’s not a matter of good or bad, nice or mean. It’s about reality vs unreality.

  1. It sounds like business as usual with any company.

    Develop something for iOS that apple dislikes for any reason and they’ll reject it. Its even a part of the dev agreement!

    Most companies do not respond well when a piece of their tech they consider as a core element is replaced.

    That does not make it right but i don’t see anything here that is any different than the reat of the industry.

    1. But Android is “open!”

      Google’s relationship with external companies via Android is far different from Apple’s stovepiped ecosystem. And even Apple has been questioned over some of its practices with respect to the App Store. Google may be in a precarious position in this case.

    2. Android was supposed to be “free and open”, allowing people to customize it however they wanted. If that included cutting out Google’s services and replacing them with alternatives, then so be it. That’s the price of “free and open”.

      Nobody else made a similar promise. Not Apple, Microsoft, RIM, or Palm. Just Google.

      Now they’re breaking their promise and locking out competition like Skyhook. Free and open? Yeah, not so much anymore (not that it ever really was).

      And it might also be illegal, because don’t Moto and Samsung actually have the RIGHT to customize Android to that extent? I recall Google making a big deal about how the manufacturers are supposed to have control.

  2. “Don’t be evil”… as Steve Jobs said to this Google corporate ideal… “Bullsh_t”

    I’m half way thru “In the Plex”, the book about Google, and it is indeed the new Microsoft.

    They find various ways to get around, excuse away and ignore being evil.

  3. @Dude Mcfarland

    The difference is that Google positioned itself as the champion of “free and open”. From Andy Rubin’s ridiculous “definition of open” tweet to his posturing of Android as a necessary free alternative to Apple’s “walled garden” at Google I/O last year, Google is speaking out of both sides of its mouth. It’s not that they’re inconsistent with what other businesses are doing; it’s that their inconsistent with the high ground they’ve been speaking from all this time.

    1. Im hoping that skyhook wins personally. Im always in support of the small developer in these instances.

      At some point (sadly) the development side of goog will collide with the management side and this might be the big start of that.

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