Printed from http://www.electronista.com

Skyhook sues Google for monopolizing Android geolocation

updated 06:30 pm EDT, Wed September 15, 2010

Skyhook says Google geolocation anti-competitive

Skyhook on Wednesday sued Google for allegedly abusing its control over Android to exclude competitors for geolocation services. A Boston-based lawsuit accused Google of preventing Android phone makers from using Skyhook's positioning, such as its Wi-Fi triangulation, and instead requiring them to use Google's own. Motorola was supposedly forced to pull Skyhook from its devices to pass Google's compliance tests and wasn't even given the option of tuning the Skyhook software to meet the guidelines.

"There was a time when Google tried to compete fairly with Skyhook," the main lawsuit read. "But once Google realized its positioning technology was not competitive, it chose other means to undermine Skyhook and damage and attempt to destroy its position in the marketplace for location positioning technology."

CEO Ted Morgan claimed to have petitioned Google's Android leader Andy Rubin as late as today but filed the lawsuit after it appeared no concessions were possible. The loss of customers has cost Skyhook "millions of dollars," the complaint said.

A second lawsuit also accused Google of violating four Skyhook patents and, if successful, would ask for a permanent ban on Google's Wi-Fi triangulation routines without a settlement in place.

Google hasn't formally responded to either of the lawsuits.

The claims if true would be a major blow to the public image created for Android as an open platform. Phone designers officially have the freedom to modify much of the code in Android, including core aspects like positioning and the dialer, but the Skyhook allegations have implied that Google is strong-arming Android developers into using its own software components. Android hardware creators have three levels of access that dictate how much involvement Google has over what apps are included in return for control, but geolocation hasn't usually been one of the requirements.

Morgan went as far as to bring Skyhook's complaints into a larger, mounting concern that Android's openness is being hijacked. Furors have already existed over Verizon's decision to pull Google search from the Samsung Fascinate as well as AT&T's decision to block non-Market apps from its phones under the guise of security. Apple has already moved away from the Skyhook location services it used in the iPhone for most of its history, but its role as both OS and hardware maker meant it was simply making a strategic choice instead of abusing its authority.

"The message that Android is open is certainly not entirely true," the CEO explained. "Device makers can license technology from other companies and then not be able to deploy it." [via GigaOM and SAI]



By Electronista Staff
toggle

Comments

  1. Parky

    Mac Elite

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +9

    "Don't be evil"

    So much for "Don't be evil"

    Comment buried. Show
  1. wrenchy

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2009

    -16

    The Android geolocation system


    Belongs to Google. They can do whatever they want with it. If that means excluding the competition, so be it. Don't like it? Then go develop for iPhone.

    This lawsuit is going no where.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. macemoneta

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2009

    -10

    The cost of free

    Android is free, and Google bundles its applications with the OS to get ad revenue. You can take the GPL (or other OSS licensed) portions of Android, add your own applications, and call it something else. Then try to convince telephone handset manufacturers to bundle your OS instead of Android.

    These folks would like Google to do the work for them, while they make the money. Nice idea. Not going to happen.

  1. JuanGuapo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2008

    +3

    Google.

    I agree with all of the above statements--Privacy is the ultimate cost of free.

  1. macentric

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2005

    +2

    You're missing the point...

    Android is as open a platform as the iPhone. Google reserves the right restrict software from their platform. The whole point of open source is that you can take the software and modify it to do anything you please as long as you put your code modifications out there for others to use freely. That is the price you pay for using some of the open source licenses.

    The main point that almost all Android lovers, and iPhone haters, trot out when espousing their platform is that the Android platform is open. As the article states the consumer is getting just as locked in with Android as they are with Apple, only Apple admits it proudly. Google wants you to believe that they are open and providing good quality "free" software for your unlimited use. The only problem is that you give up your privacy and anonymity with Google. I bet they will start providing a "heard here" section on Street View with recordings of your phone conversations direct from your phone. I bet it will be sitting right there with all of your wifi data for others to peruse. After all if you want to hide what you're doing, you probably shouldn't be doing it. I probably butchered Eric Schmidt's quote, but you get the idea.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -4

    Re: You're missing the point...

    Android is as open a platform as the iPhone.

    Um, no, it's more open than the iPhone, since you can download the entire OS from the internet and do what you want with it.

    How the carriers use it is up to them.

    Google reserves the right restrict software from their platform.

    No, they restrict software from their platform if you license the software from Google (including Google's apps). As one poster said, they want all the goodness of the special Google apps without having to deal with the restrictions google puts on with the use of those apps.

    The whole point of open source is that you can take the software and modify it to do anything you please as long as you put your code modifications out there for others to use freely. ...The main point that almost all Android lovers, and iPhone haters, trot out when espousing their platform is that the Android platform is open.

    People don't espouse that Android is 'open' as in 'open source' as in "I can hack it all I want on my phone". It's 'open' as in "I can install all the apps I want without someone telling me it is OK. Sure, it's an open-source OS, but that's not the open people care about. Most users, even hackers, aren't looking at their phone going "Man, I wish I could change the kernel on this thing!"

    As the article states the consumer is getting just as locked in with Android as they are with Apple, only Apple admits it proudly.

    Nope, that's not what the article states. Since an Android user can install any app from any place, they aren't as locked in. And there is NOTHING to prevent the user from installing an app that uses Skyhook's service. It's just whether Motorola can install it.

  1. _Rick_V_

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2003

    +3

    @ comment buried above

    The point isn't that Google can do anything they want with their platform, the point is that Android is touted as an "open" platform.

    That means, if where open like Linux, anyone can take the Android code and bang it into any shape they want, including swapping in a different geolocation service. That apparently ain't happening.

  1. Shadowcatcher

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2010

    +2

    No FCC Involvement Yet?

    Curious if they'll stick their nose in this issue. If not, that would strongly suggest a bias.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.

toggle

Network Headlines

toggle

Most Popular

Sponsor

Recent Reviews

Samsung SmartCam HD Pro

Keeping an eye on the home while out and about these days is common practice, assisted by modern technology. Internet cameras became p ...

Fugoo Bluetooth speaker

It's rare to find a Bluetooth speaker that can cover a large array of needs. Generally, speakers are wrapped in a desktop-convenient d ...

Epson LW-600P

Label makers are traditionally simple machines that perform a single task which people feel they can either live with or without. In m ...

Sponsor

toggle

Most Commented

 
toggle

Popular News